Putting a tax on sugary drinks may not have a large effect on obesity in the UK, researchers have claimed.
It’s likely that the number of obese adults would only be reduced by 180,000, with the greatest impact in the under-30s, researchers writing in the BMJ suggest.
A 20% tax on sugary drinks as suggested by clinicians this year, would add around 12p to the price of a 330ml can of fizzy drink bought in a supermarket, or 40p to a two-litre bottle.
The researchers, from Oxford and Reading universities, believe a 20% tax would have the greatest impact on people under 30.
The tax would cut drinks purchases by 15% and lead to a reduced energy intake of 28 calories per person per week, researchers estimated.
Dr Adam Briggs, lead study author from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, said: "Sugar-sweetened drinks are known to be bad for health and our research indicates that a 20% tax could result in a meaningful reduction in the number of obese adults in the UK.
"Such a tax is not going to solve obesity by itself, but we have shown it could be an effective public health measure and should be considered alongside other measures to tackle obesity in the UK."