Proceeds from sugar tax would be used to "help those children at greatest risk of obesity"

Proceeds from sugar tax would be used to "help those children at greatest risk of obesity"

The UK Government's Health Committee has recommended a tax on full-sugar drinks in the country. The measure has attracted criticism from the trade body for soft drinks, however, which has called the recommendation a "PR campaign" to introduce a tax on soft drinks.

The Health Committee's 'Childhood Obesity - brand and bold action' report, released today, says treating obesity costs the UK's National Health Service an estimated GBP5.1bn (US$7.65bn) a year. The report makes several suggestions to reduce obesity, including the introduction of a sugar tax "in order to help change behaviour, with all proceeds targeted to help those children at greatest risk of obesity".

Tougher controls on price promotions, marketing and advertising have also been highlighted, as well as improving education.

The director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, Gavin Partington, argues that the committee had not held an inquiry "in the conventional meaning of the word".

He said: "By its own admission, the Health Select Committee is merely proposing this tax because it's easy to do. Yet, there is no evidence worldwide that such a tax has an effect on obesity."

Partington highlighted evidence from the McKinsey Global Institute 2014 report, which found that a tax would be "much less effective" than reducing portion sizes and reformulating products.

"Our industry has led the way in both of these areas and has reduced calorie intake from soft drinks by 11% in just 4 years," he added.

Earlier this year, the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) claimed that the marketing of full-sugar non-alcoholic beverages is one of the main contributors to rising child obesity around the world, especially in developing countries.

To read the UK Health Committee's report, click here.