Sweet drinks levy consultation

Rebecca Gibbs's picture

It can be a depressing business looking at the food and drink that’s on sale in hospitals, a problem for patients and relatives but also staff.  Few have the time to go beyond hospital walls to find refreshments and so are thrown on the mercy of Trust shops and vending machines.  A recent survey that asked NHS staff about their views on their own health found obesity to be the most important issue.

Following the outcome of a pilot, NHS Chief Exec, Simon Stevens, has opened a ten-week consultation on whether sugary drinks sales should be subject to a levy.  Sugary drinks usually have no nutritional benefit and can have astonishing amounts of sugar buried in them – typically 9 teaspoons.  A can of coke has 7 teaspoons or 35grams and the daily recommended limit for those aged 11 and over is 30g.  For children and young people they are often the chief source of sugar and drinks more than sugary snacks are more likely to be viewed not as treats but part of a daily routine. 

So they’re quite a problem but is a levy rather than a ban the best way forward?  Sugar taxes have proved controversial.  Whilst this has the potential to bring in much needed revenue – in this case to be made available to Trusts implementing staff health and wellbeing programmes – taxes on consumption are felt by some to penalize those on low incomes most.  What’s your view?

Alongside responses to this post, you have until the 18th January to give your views here: https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/consultation/sugary-drinks/consultation/intro/  The consultation documents are available at: https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/consultation/sugary-drinks/user_uploads/consult-guid-sugary-drinks.pdf

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