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PHE recommend 10-20% sugar tax

22 October 2015

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Public Health England has said that a sugar tax of a minimum 10-20% is likely to be effective and reduce purchasing, its long-awaited report stated today.

Stating that they want England to lead the world in terms of sugar policy, PHE said England should “reduce and rebalance” price promotions of high-sugar items in all retail outlets including supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and takeaways, as well as less advertising of high-sugar items across all media outlets.

It also recommends the “introduction of a price increase of a minimum of 10-20% on high sugar products through the use of a tax or levy such as on full sugar soft drinks, based on the emerging evidence of the impact of such measures in other countries.”

However, on Thursday No 10 confirmed that prime minister David Cameron did not read the report but had dismissed the idea. “The prime minister’s view remains that he doesn’t see a need for a tax on sugar.” Similarly, the Food and Drink Association said earlier today: “we do not agree that the international evidence supports the introduction of a sugar tax and for this reason would oppose such a move.”

The public health experts suggest that achieving the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommendation (of reducing the consumption of added sugars or sugars in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices to 5% of dietary energy) would save the NHS £500m per year, if it was achieved over 10 years.

The report also recommended: the government set a clear definition for high-sugar foods; create a “broad, structured and transparently monitored” programme of gradual sugar reduction in everyday food and drink products; adopt and monitor the food and drinks available in government and NHS institutions; and continue to raise awareness of concerns around sugar levels.