Sugar levy on soft drinks announced
The Chancellor has announced a new levy from April 2018 aimed at the producers and importers of added sugar soft drinks
Action on Sugar greatly welcome the announcement of a sugar duty on soft drinks containing added sugars, today. We have been calling for this for quite some time (Letter to Cameron). We now need the other essential actions, as outlined in our "Cameron's Obesity Plan" (Obesity Plan), to be urgently implemented. A sugar levy alone will not tackle the high levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay, but it is a promising step in the right direction.
- Sugar is a major factor in childhood obesity
- Sugar sweetened soft drinks are the single biggest dietary source of free sugars for children and teenagers
- The levy targets producers and aims to encourage them to reformulate their products to reduce the amount of soft drinks included
- The levy excludes milk based drinks, fruit juice with no added sugar and drinks produced by small operators
- The levy is expected to raise around £1.5bn over the first 3 years by making soft drinks companies pay a charge on added sugar drinks with total sugar content above 5 grams per 100 millilitres. There will be a higher charge for drinks that contain more than 8 grams per 100 millilitres
- The money will be used to double the PE and sport premium for primary schools, expand school breakfast clubs and support more secondary schools to offer a longer school day, including more sport.
For media coverage: Sugar Levy Media Coverage
Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, Chair of Action on Sugar says: "We are delighted to see in today’s budget announcement that the government will be introducing a new sugar levy on soft drinks which will be used to double the funding they dedicate to sport in every primary school. However, for this to be effective it’s imperative that the levy is at least 20% on all sugar-sweetened soft drinks and confectionery and escalate thereafter if companies do not comply to reformulation targets – and this must be implemented immediately. The country is still eagerly awaiting for David Cameron to announce his long over due childhood obesity strategy and he now has a unique opportunity to produce a coherent, structured evidence-based plan to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay."
Jenny Rosborough, Registered Nutritionist and Campaign Manager at Action on sugar says: "The levy focuses on sugar sweetened drinks because the evidence showing an association between sugar consumption, weight gain and increased risk of type 2 diabetes is most consistently related to the consumption of sugar sweetened drinks, plus they are the biggest contributor of free sugars to the diets of children and adolescents. What’s more, these particular drinks do not contain nutritional value. The most effective strategy for sugar reduction across the UK population is for manufacturers to reformulate their products by gradually removing the sugar. The soft drinks industry have an opportunity to avoid the levy by reformulating their drinks to reduce the amount of free sugars they contain. The sugar duty is one important measure of many needed to tackle obesity. It is certainly a step in the right direction and a great day for public health nutrition."
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