British PM faces pressure over sugar tax

London, Oct 23 (IANS) British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing pressure to reverse his opposition to a sugar tax after the publication of a report that mooted a 10-20 percent levy to deal with childhood obesity, the media said on Friday.

The prime minister faced calls to at least consider a tax on high-sugar products after it emerged that he had not yet read the report called “Sugar Reduction: The Evidence for Action” by Public Health England that was controversially delayed by his Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, The Guardian reported.

“Consuming too many foods and drinks high in sugar can lead to weight gain and related health problems, as well as tooth decay. Almost 25 percent of adults, 10 percent of four- to five-year-olds and 19 percent of 10- to 11-year-olds in England are obese, with significant numbers also being overweight,” the report said.

Downing Street confirmed that the government is looking at other measures recommended in the report, including a crackdown on advertising of sugary products and cut-price promotions of sweet food and drink.

However, Cameron’s spokesman said the prime minister had not changed his view that there are “better ways” than a sugar tax to deal with childhood obesity.

Cameron’s refusal to consider a sugar tax puts him at odds with medical groups, health charities, the Labour party, the campaigning celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and even some Conservative MPs.

Oliver – who has been one of the leading advocates of a sugar tax – said doctors, dentists, scientists, a large and growing percentage of the British public and many in the media are calling for action.

“The ball is firmly in the government’s court,” he said, adding: “They have the opportunity now to be bold and brave and ensure Britain leads the way against obesity- and diet-related disease.”

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