American public health experts have called for a tax to be added to sweetened drinks in a bid to fight the growing obesity epidemic. A group led by academics from Yale and Harvard universities proposed the ‘cola tax’, which would raise the price of the average can of sweetened drink by 15 to 20 per cent.
They say this would cut calorie consumption from drinks by a minimum of 10 per cent (enough to prompt weight loss) and contribute almost $15 billion (£10bn) towards the health costs of obesity.
The wrong approach
“There is no denying that the UK, like many developed countries, is struggling with an increasingly obese population," said Libby Dowling, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.
"Obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes and other health conditions which is putting a massive strain on the NHS.
“As with the US, sweetened drinks are one of the biggest sources of sugar in our diet. Nevertheless, we don’t believe that a ‘cola tax’ is the right approach to help reduce the number of people who are overweight or obese in the UK.
“Instead, better education and information are needed to help people make the right food choices. People should also be encouraged to increase their physical activity, as a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.”
“It is also important to remember that for people with diabetes, these drinks have their place as a hypo treatment or as something to consume to provide energy before sport or other physical activity.”