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

Time to address paramedic retention rates

28/03/2017Time to address paramedic retention rates

Following the National Audit Office’s (NAO’s) recent report int... more >
Empowering leaders for the future of commissioning

28/03/2017Empowering leaders for the future of commissioning

Caroline Chipperfield, associate director of partnerships at the NHS Leader... more >

editor's comment

22/03/2017New additions and unexpected announcements

As NHE went to press, many of us were still recovering from the chancellor’s unexpected health announcements in his last Spring Budget.   While the sector welcomed Philip Hammond’s revelations, centered on capital funding for advanced sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) and A&E triage schemes (page 24), the government failed to address the funding gap still facing the NHS.   Even the £2bn social care windfall, which Treasury has... read more >

last word

Foreign patient charges are a distraction from the real issues

Foreign patient charges are a distraction from the real issues

Vivek Kotecha, research officer at the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI), explains why the charging of foreign patients distracts from our home-grown NHS issues.  The Depart more > more last word articles >

interviews

Tight timetable for nursing associate  regulation

28/03/2017Tight timetable for nursing associate regulation

Jackie Smith, chief executive at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), t... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

Developing sustainability and transformation plans

29/03/2017Developing sustainability and transformation plans

Lisa Robertson, HFMA research manager, discusses the emerging governance arrangements being developed to support the delivery of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs)... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

healthcare events

events calendar

back

March 2017

forward
mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
27 28 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 7 8 9

featured articles

View all News