Doctors around Britain are looking to the government to help combat the UK’s obesity epidemic.
They’ve demanded a 20% tax hike on sugary drinks in the region, which would go towards fruit and vegetable subsidies.
The most recent report from the British Medical Association (BMA) not only wants the tax hike, but tougher regulations on unhealthy foods in general. From marketing to children, to bans on fast food amalgamations, the BMA is looking to crack down.
“Doctors are increasingly concerned about the impact of poor diet, which is responsible for up to 70,000 deaths a year, and has the greatest impact on the NHS budget, costing £6BN annually,” said Prof. Sheila Hollins, chair of the BMA board of science, in an interview with The Guardian.
“While sugar-sweetened drinks are very high in calories they are of limited nutritional value, and when people in the UK are already consuming far too much sugar, we are increasingly concerned about how they contribute towards conditions like diabetes.”
The UK would be following other sugar taxes already being experimented with. Mexico has seen positive results with their 10% hike, the most recent sugar tax to be approved. Berkley in California has done the same thing.
“We know from experiences in other countries that taxation on unhealthy food and drinks can improve health outcomes, and the strongest evidence of effectiveness is for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. If a tax of at least 20% is introduced, it could reduce the prevalence of obesity in the UK by around 180,000 people,” Hollins continued.
While the issue has been raised – and shot down – in the government, they’ve looked at other ways to tackle the obesity problem. The responsibility deal with food industries, which asks companies to make pledges on measures such as labeling and cutting calories in their packaged food products, is one example. The effect has been minimal.
Hospital doctors who deal with diabetes, heart problems, cancer, and other obesity-related diseases on a regular basis, are all aboard the BMA’s tough stance on food regulation.
“The Royal College of Physicians agrees with the BMA that there needs to be a strong regulatory framework and concerted action across all government departments to work on the prevention of health harms arising from obesity and poor diets,” said Prof Jane Dacre, RCP president.
While N.A. has a growing obesity problem of their own, it’ll probably be a while before they consider taking on major food industry moguls.