Tax on sugary drinks can prevent millions from becoming obese

19 February 2016 | News, Health policy

A new study that predicts obesity rates in the UK could be reduced by five per cent over the next decade if a sugary drinks tax is introduced has been welcomed by World Cancer Research Fund.

The report, from Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum, concluded that 3.7 million fewer people would be obese by 2025 if a 20 per cent tax was imposed on sugary drinks.

Sarah Toule, Head of Health Information at World Cancer Research Fund, said: “These figures are encouraging and show that the government has a role to play in reducing obesity rates in this country.

“Drinking too many sugary drinks is directly linked to children gaining weight. Being a healthy weight is the most important thing people can do to reduce their risk of cancer, after not smoking.

“It is therefore very worrying that 62 per cent of the UK population is overweight or obese and that rates are continuing to rise.

“It is paramount that measures be introduced to help reduce the amount of sugar we consume if we are to reverse the obesity epidemic.”

A tax on sugary drinks is one of a number of measures which World Cancer Research Fund is encouraging the government to consider as part of its childhood obesity strategy, due to be published by the end of February.

There is strong evidence that being overweight increases the risk of ten different types of cancer. About one in six of these cancer cases – 24,000 cases a year – could be prevented if everyone was a healthy weight.

Tackling the overweight and obesity epidemic infographic

Will Finch | 19 February 2016