A sugary drinks duty would save London £39m in healthcare costs

A sugary drinks duty would save London £39m in healthcare costs

Our partners at The Children’s Food Campaign have today published figures showing that the introduction of a 20 pence per litre duty on sugary drinks would benefit Londoners’ health, as well as save the NHS and public health budgets £39 million over twenty years.

The research, published in association with University of Liverpool academic Brendan Collins and Food Active, shows that if the UK government introduced a 20 pence per litre sugary drinks duty, then the impact in London over twenty years would be to:

  • reduce the cases of type 2 diabetes by over 6300
  • prevent over 1100 cases of cancer
  • reduce strokes and cases of coronary heart disease by over 4300
  • improve the quality of life for thousands of residents

The London boroughs set to gain the most savings and health benefits from a sugary drinks duty are Croydon, Enfield, Southwark, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney.

Soft drinks are the largest single source of sugar for children aged 4-10 years and teenagers. The Children’s Food Campaign is calling for the government to introduce a 20p per litre sugary drinks duty to reduce sugar consumption. The Campaign proposes that any revenue generated would be used to set-up a Children’s Health Fund, paying for programmes to improve children’s health and protect the environment they grow up in.

Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, said:

“A duty on sugary drinks of 20 pence per litre would be the most practical and effective way of tackling a significant source of unnecessary calories and sugar in children and young people’s diets.”

“Mexico, France and Hungary have already introduced a sugary drinks duty, and are reaping the benefits. In this country, Citizens UK, trade unions and dozens of other organisations all support a duty. London’s politicians can no longer hide behind the idea that it wouldn’t be popular, or is an untried policy.”

Rosie Boycott, Chair of the London Food Board, said:

“The global food industry, in its scramble for ever increasing profits, is not only trashing the planet but is effectively killing us. Sweetened fizzy drinks offer nothing to a city already suffering high levels of obesity-related diseases and dental decay. It would be good for our health and the environment if we drank less of them.”

“In many areas, London has already been leading the charge in the battle to eat well. But we also need national action to ensure firms contribute to the overall health bill and encourage consumers to swap to healthier products. That is why we need a tax on sugary drinks.”

Lord Darzi, Chair of the London Health Commission, in his introduction to the London Health Commission report, said:

“…as the Chair of the London Health Commission, as a doctor, and as a father, I give my full and unequivocal support to calls for the introduction of a national sugar tax.”

Citizens UK, the alliance of local community organising groups, including North London Citizens, South London Citizens, West London Citizens and TELCO, said:

“We want our children and grandchildren to have the best chance to live a healthy life. Yet across our members schools we are finding that increasing numbers of children are showing early signs of heart disease, diabetes and poor mental health.”

“We are calling for a Children’s Health Fund to enable a step-change in early intervention. Since there is no spare money in the NHS, we are calling for a duty on sugary drinks, which will itself reduce diabetes and obesity.”

To find out more please visit www.childrenshealthfund.org.uk


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