A levy on sugary drinks will come into force from April 2018, the chancellor George Osborne announced in the 2016 Budget.
The levy is expected to raise approximately £520 million, with this money then being invested into promoting exercise and good health in primary and secondary schools. The tax will be charged on volumes according to total sugar content, with a main rate charge for drink above 5g of sugar per 100 millilitres and a higher rate for drinks with more than 8g of sugar per 100 millilitres.
‘You cannot have a long term plan for the country unless you have a long term plan for our children’s healthcare,’ said Mr Osborne. ‘Here are the facts we know. Five-year-old children are consuming their body weight in sugar every year. Experts predict that within a generation over half of all boys, and 70% of girls could be overweight or obese. Here’s another fact that we all know. Obesity drives disease. It increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. So today, I can announce that we will introduce a new sugar levy on the soft drinks industry.’
The UK currently has one of the highest overall obesity rates among developed countries. In England, one in 10 children are obese when they start primary school, and this rises to 20% by the time they leave. Evidence shows that 80% of children who are obese between the ages of 10 and 14 will go on to become obese adults. The estimated cost of this to the UK economy is approximately £27billion, with the NHS currently spending over £5billion on obesity-related costs.
Janet Davies, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: 'Nurses working in this field know that prevention is best as it can be very difficult to rectify the problem, so the Chancellor’s announcement of a sugar tax on drinks manufacturers is a good step towards prevention.
'The government is right to focus on the nation’s health and the effect that habits formed in childhood can have. Nurses working in public health can also make a huge difference to children and families, and like the wider NHS this area is desperately in need of sustained investment,' she added.
‘If we as a society cannot protect our children from high levels of sugar and all that goes with it with the later crisis of health, cancer and diabetes then as a House we have failed the nation,’ said Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party.