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New 'sugar tax' proposed by Minister

22 May 2015

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman has recently announced the possibility of taxing sugary foods in order to pay for the medical costs of obesity in the UK.

According to the minister, food companies should be aware that if they produce food that could lead to bad health and lifestyles then they may face penalties. However, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously said that there would be no ‘sugar tax’.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, Mr Freeman said: ‘I don’t think heavy-handed legislation is the way to go. But I think that where there is a commercial product which confers costs on all of us as a society then we could be looking at recouping some of that through taxation’.

Recent figures show that a high proportion of UK adults are overweight. In response, Public Health England released a draft report outlining ‘options for action’ which included a ‘sugar tax’. It is thought that a 20% tax on sugary foods would reduce obesity in the UK by 1.3%. Public Health England has been an executive agency of the Department of Health in the UK since 2013.