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'Sugar tax' could curb obesity epidemic

Experts have called for a tax on sugar to encourage healthy eating. 

One in five 10-11 year olds are now obese, and one in three are now overweight, recent studies show. 

A seven point plan on how to address the childhood obesity crisis was commissioned by the government earlier this year. 

The plan, created by campaign group Action on Sugar, calls for the government to: 

 1. Reduce added sugars by 40% by 2020 by reformulating 

 2. Cease all forms of targeted marketing of ultra-processed, unhealthy foods and drinks to children

 3. Disassociate physical activity with obesity via banning junk food sports sponsorships

 4. Reduce fat in ultra-processed foods, particularly saturated fat - 15% reduction by 2020

 5. Limit the availability of ultra-processed foods and sweetened soft drinks as well as reducing portion size

 6. Incentivise healthier food and discourage drinking of soft drinks by introducing a sugar tax

 7. Remove responsibility for nutrition from the Department of Health and return it back to an independent agency

The group believes that the government could halt the obesity epidemic by reducing calories by 100kcal a dat. 

Currently, the costs of obesity and type 2 diabetes are around £29 billion per year. The costs are expected to rise due to the number of children who are currently obese. 

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar said: "Obesity is preventable if the food environment is changed, yet the current policies are not working.  

"The UK requires the implementation of this coherent strategy, starting by setting incremental sugar reduction targets for soft drinks this Summer.  No delays, no excuses.”

Katharine Jenner, public health nutritionist of Action on Sugar said: "The underlying cause of obesity in children is the processed food and drink environment - calling it 'personal responsibility' just doesn't wash any more.  Whilst individuals do what they can to look after their own welfare, the Government must also act in our best interests, rather than those of big business.  

"This means taking action using all the evidence-based tools at our disposal including taxation, reformulation, limiting the availability of unhealthy food at checkouts and to stop allowing the marketing of unhealthy foods to children.”