SUGARY fizzy drinks have no nutritional value and putting a tax on them would help tackle the obesity time bomb – according to Blackpool’s director of public health.
Dr Arif Rajpura says he is aware some people might consider the move akin to the “nanny state”, but says action is needed and must be taken now to tackle the national obesity crisis.
He says methods used in the past clearly have not worked and also wants to see a ban on junk food advertising before 9pm and councils given powers to limit take-aways and fast food outlets near schools.
His comments come after a report by a top medical association called for a tax to be brought in on fizzy drinks last week.
In a report, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) – which represents nearly every one of Britain’s 220,000 doctors – also said fast food outlets near schools should be limited and new parents given specific advice on how to feed their children properly, to tackle spiralling levels of obesity. Figures show one on four adults is obese and that number is expected to double by 2050.
Dr Rajpura says the writing is on the wall for the UK to end up like America, with a ticking time bomb of obesity, if nothing is done. He said: “These sugar-sweetened beverages are empty calories, there is no nutritional value whatsoever.
“They don’t make people feel full, they don’t suppress appetite and people tend to consume them on top of everything else, as an extra.
“No single thing will help tackle obesity, it needs a range of measures and a tax on sugar sweetened beverages would be just one.
“Studies have shown a 10 per cent increase on the price, would mean a 10 per cent reduction in consumption. If we don’t do something, there will be a huge cost to the NHS of dealing with the consequences of obesity – heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, hip and knee replacements.
“I endorse the report and its suggestions are things we in the North West have been lobbying for.”
But the British Soft Drinks Association hit back at the AMRC report – saying sales of fizzy drinks over the last decade have fallen, but levels of obesity have risen. It said its products accounted for just two per cent of calories in an average diet and it is what people consume overall which needs to be addressed.