Monthly Archives: June 2015

A Coca-Cola bottle is seen with other beverages in New York

A taxing issue: A duty on sugary drinks will protect England’s health finds new research

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New research published today finds that the introduction of a 20% duty on sugary drinks would have a major impact on the health of England’s population.

The research, conducted on behalf of Food Active (a North West based healthy weight campaign) by public health researcher Brendan Collins and colleagues. Published in the PLOS One journal, it indicates that the introduction of a 20% duty on sugary drinks could lead to:

  • Approximately 2,400 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes.
  • Some 1,700 fewer cases of stroke and coronary heart disease.
  • Around 400 fewer cases of cancer.
  • A gain of approximately 40,000 Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) per year.
  • A reduction in calorie intake across England with the biggest change in Newham (7.1 kcals per person per day) and the smallest expected change in West Somerset (5.9 kcals per person per day).

Brendan Collins, author of the research, said:

“Survey data show that consumption of sugary drinks has progressively increased since the late 1980s in the UK. Teenagers in particular are the biggest consumers of these drinks.”

“Overconsumption of these drinks can lead to obesity and obesity-related diseases. It is therefore crucial that we consider effective fiscal measures such as a 20% duty to combat this rise in consumption. This study adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating health benefits for a sugary drinks duty.”

Robin Ireland, Director of Food Active, said:

“At Food Active we see a duty on sugary drinks as a key measure in the fight against obesity. Taxes on sugary drinks have now been successfully implemented in a number of US states as well as in France, Hungary, Norway, Denmark, Samoa and Mexico. It’s time for the UK to rapidly follow suit, for the sake of our health.”

Prof. Simon Capewell, a co-author in the study, said:

“Here is important evidence that a sugary drinks tax could save lives and money. Sugary drinks taxes have been successful in many countries. In Mexico, sugary drinks taxes have rapidly reduced consumption by an impressive 10% overall, and even more in deprived households. Jamie Oliver is leading the way in his British restaurants. When will the UK government also take this very effective action?”

To find out more about the Food Active campaign, visit:

Click here to view the full study. (PDF)


Are energy drinks creating a ‘caffeine culture’ in our schools?

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With the obesity problem amongst children and young people gaining attention from policy makers and health activists alike, the spotlight has turned on energy drinks.

An article in today’s Guardian highlights growing concerns from parents and teachers about the widespread consumption of high-caffeine and high-sugar energy drinks by pupils- leading to what has been dubbed a ‘caffeine culture’ in schools.

Reasons for the rise of this ‘caffeine culture’ are many and varied, but as Katharine Jenner, Campaigns Director of Action on Sugar points out, many energy drinks are ‘unfairly marketed, making claims about performance enhancing. I think that is no longer about (free) choice; that’s influencing people’s choice, and it’s no longer a fair game.’

Jenner elaborates that energy drink companies are trying to get people addicted to their products, which can contain a child’s full daily sugar intake and the caffeine equivalent of a cup of coffee.

The increasing media focus on the negative health consequences of sugary energy drinks, and the rise of a ‘caffeine culture’ amongst young people is welcomed by the team here at Health Equalities Group (HEG).

Robin Ireland, Chief Executive of HEG, says:

“Our Give Up Loving Pop campaign kick-started a national conversation about sugary drinks; and whether or not they deserve a place in young people’s diets given their contribution to the nation’s obesity problem.’

‘It’s great to see further media coverage of this important public health issue and here at HEG we fully endorse the stance that Action on Sugar have taken with regards to the irresponsible marketing practices associated with these beverages towards young people.’

You can find out more about our Give Up Loving Pop campaign here.

Interested in running a Gulp campaign in your area? Contact us for more information.