A report has predicted that a 20 percent sugar tax on drinks in Britain would prevent 3.7 million people from becoming obese over the next 10 years. The report comes as the government prepares an obesity strategy, due in the coming weeks.
The UK Health Forum worked with Cancer Research UK to calculate the expected effect of the sugar tax on the nation’s waistlines and eating habits. Their report suggested that a tax on sugar would also save £10 million a year for the NHS by 2025.
The researchers modelled the effect of the tax and predicted a 16 percent decrease in the amount of fizzy drinks consumed. They then adapted the figures to take into account the alternative food and drinks people might turn to. In conclusion, they predicted that a tax would lead to people consuming an average of 15 fewer calories each day.
At present, 29 percent of UK citizens are obese and trends suggest that the figure will rise to 34 percent in 2025. Rather than reverse the current obesity epidemic, the report predicts that the tax wold help to level off obesity rates at the current percentage, therefore preventing 3.7 million people from becoming obese.
Alison Cox from Cancer Research UK said that the effect of a small tax on sugary drinks would be huge and the numbers make clear the reasons why action is needed now, before the obesity problem worsens.
Jane Landon from the UK Health Forum agreed, arguing that countries who have already introduced a tax on sugary drinks have increased revenues for public health measures as well as reducing consumption.
Despite soft drinks companies arguing that other measures would be more effective, the government is considering the tax.