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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 23 September, 2014

Doctors in UK call for ‘soda tax’ and ban on junk food advertising

The Academy of Medical Royal College said current restrictions, on advertising for children in particular, were failing to tackle obesity problems.

Image: Junk food image via Shutterstock

THE ACADEMY OF Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC), representing most doctors in the UK, has recommended a ban on advertising of junk foods as well as a tax on drinks containing high levels of sugar.

In a report on obesity in the UK, the Academy recommended a ban on television advertisements for foods high in saturated fats, sugar and salt before 9pm, and an agreement from commercial broadcasters that they will not allow these foods to be advertised on internet ‘ondemand’ services.

AOMRC said current restrictions on children’s advertising were mostly ineffective as they only applied during children’s airtime and around programmes with a high child audience.

The report also recommends a tax on sugary drinks with a duty placed on them that would increase the price by at least 20 per cent for an initial one year.

“This would be an experimental measure, looking at price elasticity, substitution effects, and to what extent it impacts upon consumption patterns and producer/retailer responses,” it said.

Citing several examples of similar measures in countries like Hungary, France and Denmark, the report said modelling evidence suggests
that taxation of products high in fat, sugar and salt would not only result in reduction in consumption but also be an important cost-saving intervention.

It also refers to the successful implementation of the ‘soda tax’ in the US and recommends using some of the definitions from those measures.

The advertising ban and the ‘soda tax’ were just two of the recommendations by the Acadaemy on tackling obesity in the UK. It also called for more government funding and an increased focus on education for those working in healthcare and in schools.

In Ireland, the idea of a sugar tax has been floated but was met with strong opposition from food industry groups which they said would leave consumers out of pocket.

Related: Food industry not convinced by sugar tax, but neither are dentists>

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