NHS to introduce sugar tax
A tax on sugary drinks and snacks in hospitals is to be introduced in a bid to encourage people to eat more healthily, the NHS has announced.
Hospitals across England will start charging more for high-sugar drinks and snacks sold in their cafes and vending machines in an effort to discourage staff, patients and visitors from buying them.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has said the 20 per cent tax will be introduced by 2020.
The move will make the NHS the first public body in the UK to bring in a sugar tax, and it will use the expected proceeds of £20m-£40m a year to improve the health of its own 1.3 million workers, Mr Steven said.
People must also be supported to undertake regular physical activity and make healthier food choices, including through a clear and consistent food labelling system
Mr Stevens said: “Because of the role that the NHS occupies in national life, all of us working in the NHS have a responsibility not just to support those who look after patients, but also to draw attention to and make the case for some of the wider changes that will actually improve the health of this country.
“It’s not just the well-being of people in this country and our children. But it’s also the sustainability of the NHS itself,” he added.
‘Dramatic type 2 rise’
Diabetes UK has welcomed the move and hopes it will help tackle the current rise in obesity and rise in type 2 diabetes.
Louise Ansari, director of prevention of type 2 diabetes at Diabetes UK, said: “The NHS is taking a brave and much-needed step by introducing its own tax on sugary drinks and snacks in hospitals across England to encourage healthier lifestyles.
“Many people consume far too much sugar, often unaware of the ‘added sugars’ in food and drink. An increasing number of people are becoming overweight, and this in turn is fuelling a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes, a serious health condition that can lead to complications including amputations, blindness and stroke and costs the NHS a staggering £10 billion a year.
“Now the government must take urgent action to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis by following in the footsteps of the NHS and introducing a sugary drinks tax across England.”
However, Ms Ansari said taxing junk foods was not enough to combat the threat of type 2 diabetes.
She said: “The government must also act on recommendations made by Public Health England which include: restricting marketing of unhealthy foods to children, reducing and rebalancing the number of price promotions offered on unhealthy foods, and implementing a clear and transparent programme for reformulating unhealthy foods and reducing portion sizes.
“People must also be supported to undertake regular physical activity and make healthier food choices, including through a clear and consistent food labelling system.
“Unlike type 1 diabetes which cannot be prevented and is not linked to diet, being overweight is a key cause of type 2 diabetes meaning that the condition can be managed, or even prevented, through adopting a healthy lifestyle.”