HEADLINES Published December2, 2015 By Bernadette Strong

British MPs Call for a Tax on Sweet Drinks

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British fast food, one of the targets of health legislation in the UK.
(Photo : Scott Barbour, Getty Images )

The Health Committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom is urging the government to introduce several strong measures to help curb childhood obesity. These measures include a tax on sugary drinks and controls on price promotions for "unhealthy food and drink."

The committee said in a report that there was "clear evidence that measures to improve the food environment" must be taken in order to tackle obesity in children. It noted that treatment of obesity costs the National Health Service £5.1 billion ($7.6 billion) every year.

It also said that there should be strong controls on price promotions for unhealthy food and drink and a tax on full-sugar beverages. The proceeds of these taxes would go to help children who are at greatest risk of obesity. It added that there should be tougher controls on marketing and advertising for unhealthy food and drink. Labels for foods and drinks should show sugar content in teaspoons, among other measures.

"One third of children leaving primary school are overweight or obese, and the most deprived children are twice as likely to be obese than the least deprived," Sarah Wollaston, chairman of the committee, said in an article in Reuters Health. "A full package of bold measures is required and should be implemented as soon as possible."

However, the office of Prime Minister David Cameron said that he did not think a sugar tax was a good course to take against children's obesity. A spokesman said that Cameron's government would unveil a national childhood obesity strategy in 2016 with other measures.

A trade group for the food and beverage industry of Britain has criticized the report, saying that it is based on information from "lobbyists."

In England, a little over 61% of adults are overweight or obese, according to Public Health England. 

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