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by Tom Freeman
05 June 2015
Tax sugary drinks, doctors advise

Tax sugary drinks, doctors advise

Taxing sugary drinks has driven down consumption in other countries and should be considered in the UK, a public health expert will tell doctors in Edinburgh today.

Speaking at a Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) conference on obesity, Professor Simon Capewell, Chair of Clinical Epidemiology, Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool will recommend following the example set by Mexico, where a 10 per cent tax on sugary drinks has led to a corresponding drop in consumption.

“Scotland has an excellent track record in addressing public health issues. Notable achievements include smoke-free public places and proposals for minimum unit pricing for alcohol.  We need to explore how these developments could be repeated with sugary drinks,” he will tell delegates.


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Sugar taxes have been introduced in Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, the USA, and Mexico, and Capewell argues it has proved effective if part of wider activity to tackle obesity.

A recent report by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICE) found obesity is costing the economy up to £4.6bn a year – which equates to £145 every second – through absenteeism and lack of productivity, and drains the NHS of up to £600m.

One in three children is at risk and one in three adults in Scotland is thought to be obese.

Professor Derek Bell, RCPE President, said: “We know that the causes and treatment of obesity are varied and complex, meaning a simple answer to the problem does not exist.  What is clear, however, is that a comprehensive and collaborative approach is required to tackle all the elements in the longer term.”

The RCPE has recently supported the Responsible Retailing of Energy Drinks campaign and the City of Edinburgh Council’s decision to remove energy drinks - many of which have high sugar content - from Edinburgh Leisure venues.

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