In today’s Spring budget statement the Chancellor announced the rates of the soft drinks industry levy as 18p (for drinks with more than 5g sugar per 100ml) and 24p (for drinks with more than 8g sugar per 100ml). This is in line with previous announcements and good news. Not only are we one step closer to the levy, but the rates have not been watered down. Academics have calculated that the rates roughly represent a price increase of approximately 30% to sugary drinks.

The Obesity Health Alliance, which includes the Institute of Health Visiting, has responded to this news of the soft drinks levy as announced by the Chancellor.

“The Soft Drinks Industry Levy is a bold, positive and necessary move we believe will help reduce the amount of sugar our children consume.

“There is evidence from other countries that show similar taxes have helped to reduce the amount of sugary soft drinks consumed.

“We’ve already seen a number of companies in the UK announce plans to reduce sugar content in their products, so clearly the potential impact is huge. This is a significant step in the battle against obesity and the Government should be applauded for its commitment to seeing it through.”

The Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 30 national health charities, medical colleges and campaign groups including the Institute of Health Visiting, has today welcomed the announcement in the Budget of a tax on the soft drinks industry.

They said in a joint statement:

“This is a moment to celebrate.  We’ve been campaigning for a tax on sugar sweetened drinks, amongst other measures, to be part of the childhood obesity strategy so we’re delighted that the Chancellor has brought this measure forward. High sugar consumption is contributing to the obesity crisis, which has a high cost both to people’s health and the public purse.

“Almost two thirds of adults and a third of children in the UK are overweight or obese, which are potent risk factors for serious health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, a range of cancers and stroke, all of which can have a complex relationship with mental health.

“We’re pleased that the Government has listened to the evidence from Public Health England and public support for a tax on sugar sweetened drinks to curb the rising tide of obesity.”

The Alliance has also called for further measures to deal with the obesity crisis, including restrictions on marketing junk food to children and reformulation of food to reduce levels of salt, fat and sugar.

ENDS

Notes to editors –

1      The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) is a new coalition of 30 national organisations which have come together to represent the unified voice of the public health sector on issues relating to overweight and obesity in the UK. We seek to share expertise and to support government in tackling the complex issue of overweight and obesity.

2      The membership of the OHA currently comprises: Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Action on Sugar, Association for the Study of Obesity, Association of Directors of Public Health, British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine, British Heart Foundation, British Medical Association, British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, British Society of Gastroenterology, Cancer Research UK, Children’s Food Campaign, Diabetes UK, Faculty of Public Health, Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Health Equalities Group, Institute for Health Visiting, Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Men’s Health Forum, National Obesity Forum, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal Society for Public Health, Society for Endocrinology, UK Health Forum, and World Cancer Research Fund UK.

3      The OHA is the first coalition of its size to support the long term goal of tackling obesity across the life course, and we are growing. Our organisations are diverse and bring a wealth of expertise, spanning the medical, nursing, charity, and public health fields. United, we represent the views of hundreds of thousands of health professionals and public health experts across the UK.

4      The OHA has produced a joint position statement which outlines ten urgent population-level policy interventions for government, retailers and health professionals. We believe these measures, implemented in conjunction, will reduce rates of overweight and obesity and address the social inequality and cultural differences in overweight and obesity prevalence. This is accessible at: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/new-alliance-obesity-outlines-priorities-action

 

Public Health England has issued a statement on the Treasury announcement of a levy on high sugar drinks from 2018.

The iHV very much welcomes this and health visitors will help to explain to parents why it is so important.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said:

“A sugary drinks levy is fabulous news for children and families in helping them to cut back on sugar. This will reduce the risks of obesity, tooth decay and other life threatening diseases. This is public health in action and a great foundation ahead of the child obesity strategy later this summer.

A levy or tax was 1 of 8 recommendations from PHE’s evidence review on sugar reduction and is a stunning early indication of the Government’s commitment to reducing child obesity. The Chancellor has firmly set this in the context of every child having the right to a good start to life, especially good that the money raised will be used to boost funding for school based exercise and sport.”