19 Feb, 2016

Sugary drinks tax ‘would stop millions becoming obese’

BBC News | James Gallagher, Health editor | 19 February 2016

A 20% tax on sugary drinks in the UK would prevent 3.7 million people becoming obese over the next decade, a report predicts.

Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum worked out the likely impact of the tax on eating habits and, ultimately, the nation’s waistlines.

Their report said such a tax would also save the NHS £10m a year by 2025.

The government is considering the measure, but soft drinks companies say other options would be more effective.

People get between 12% and 15% of their energy from sugar, but official recommendations say it should be less than 5%.

Fewer calories

The statisticians modelled the impact of the tax and predicted a 16% reduction in the number of cans of pop consumed.

Their figures were then adjusted to account for the food and drink people might turn to instead.

They concluded a tax would lead to people consuming on average 15 fewer calories per day.

While the difference sounds tiny, the model predicts a large impact on waistlines.

Currently, 29% of people are obese and trends suggest that figure will reach 34% in 2025.

Rather than reverse the obesity epidemic, the forecast predicts the tax would lead to obesity rates levelling off at around 29% – preventing 3.7 million people from becoming obese.