The report tackles the issue of childhood obesity

The report tackles the issue of childhood obesity

The British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) has dismissed a charity's recommendation that the UK Government introduce a tax on “sugary” drinks. 

Food and farming charity Sustain is calling for a GBP0.20 (US$0.31)-per-litre levy to be introduced in the UK's Budget in March. The call came in a new report – A Children’s Future Fund – released today (29 January). It suggests that money raised from a soft drinks tax should be “ring-fenced” to be spent on intitiatives that improve children’s health and tackle obesity. 

Sustain says that 61 groups have also backed the report's recommendations, including the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Royal Society for Public Health. 

Gavin Partington, the BSDA's director general, acknowledged that obesity is a “complex problem” but said that a soft drinks tax will “not address it”. He said that over the past ten years, UK consumption of soft drinks with added sugar has fallen by 9%, while the incidence of obesity has risen by 15%.

He added: “We all recognise our industry has a role to play in the fight against obesity, which is why soft drinks companies have already taken action to ensure they are playing their part.” This includes voluntary action as part of the Government’s Responsibility Deal calorie reduction pledge, Partington said. 

The UK's Department of Health said in a statement: "We keep all international evidence under review. But we believe the voluntary action we have put in place is delivering results.”

A Treasury spokesperson said it does not comment on Budget speculation. 

Last week, it was revealed that GlaxoSmithKline, AG Barr and Britvic have agreed to cut the calories in a number of their products as part of the Responsibility Deal. 

In the US, soft drinks producers are facing similar pressures, which include a move to ban large high-sugar soft drinks in New York City.