News

25.01.16

WHO backs sugar tax ahead of government childhood obesity strategy

The World Health Organization has backed the divisive plans to implement a sugar tax as a method of tackling childhood obesity as one of the conclusions from its two-year report into this global emergency.

Presented by the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, the report set the numbers on the “alarming levels” of childhood obesity across the world, with at least 41 million kids under five either overweight or obese.

The first of six recommendations was promoting healthier eating habits through comprehensive programmes and the contentious idea of a sugar tax, currently being considered by the government ahead of a final decision in the coming weeks.

Considerations for a sugar tax come as part of a government strategy to tackle obesity in the UK, where numbers are at their highest and growing.

Sir Peter Gluckman, the Commission’s co-chair, saying any strategy will require “increased political commitment”.

Opposing one of the centrepiece arguments for those against the taxation, such as Unilever’s boss, the WHO report said there is strong evidence suggesting that this method of combating obesity can be effective and feasible to implement.

“Further evidence will become available as countries that implement taxes on unhealthy foods and/or sugar-sweetened beverages monitor their progress,” the report said.

Late last year, MPs on the influential Health Select Committee backed the idea of a 20% taxation system, as well as endorsed more regulation of the food and drink industry and more power for councils to tackle childhood obesity.

Even the prime minister himself, who was initially opposed to the plan, indicated earlier this month that a U-turn could be on the horizon as he admitted he does not want to rule out the option if it proves itself necessary.

Responding to today’s report, the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing spokesperson, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, also reiterated the argument that obesity places a £5bn yearly drain on the NHS.

“We call on the government, working with councils and the NHS, to use the forthcoming child obesity strategy to come forward with ambitious and challenging proposals to tackle the child obesity crisis facing our communities,” she said.

“Councils and the NHS cannot do it all alone. The key to tackling obesity, which is costing the NHS more than £5bn every year, is investing in prevention. This saves money for other parts of the public sector by reducing demand for hospital, health and social care services, and improves the public’s health.”

Other central recommendations in the report included promoting physical activity, integrating and strengthening guidance for the prevention of noncommunicable diseases with guidance on preconception and antenatal care, provide support for healthy early childhood diets, and improving school environments and physical activity programmes.

Separately, NHS England boss Simon Stevens revealed last week that he is planning on adding a sugar tax to food and drink sold across NHS providers by 2020 to discourage staff, patients and visitors from buying sugary snacks. This would make the NHS the first public body in the UK to impose a sugar levy, with all proceeds intended to go towards improving the health of staff.

Commenting on today's WHO report, Stevens said: “The evidence is piling up that added sugar and excess calories are causing obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Responsible retailers are beginning to take action, but this needs to be reinforced and accelerated with a new no-holds-barred national strategy on obesity involving the NHS, government, industry and consumers.”

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest news

View all News

comment

Are we doing enough to accelerate self-care?

05/12/2018Are we doing enough to accelerate self-care?

Dr Selwyn Hodge, co-chair of the Self Care Forum, makes the case for the fu... more >
The future of commissioning

05/12/2018The future of commissioning

Julie Wood, chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners, reacts to Matt H... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now beyond more > more last word articles >

interviews

How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to s... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

The good, the bad, and the potential of social media

05/12/2018The good, the bad, and the potential of social media

Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at Mind, assesses the impact of social media on the nation’s wellbeing. Few days go by without a story in the press about t... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

healthcare events

events calendar

back

December 2018

forward
mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
26 27 28 29 30 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6

featured articles

View all News