The report, compiled by Sustain entitled ‘A Children’s Future Fund – How food duties could provide the money to protect children’s health and the world they grow up in’, makes three main recommendations for Budget 2013 it believes would help to improve children’s health. They are:
• Introduce a sugary drinks duty for the UK that, for example at 20p per litre, would raise around £1 billion a year
• Ring-fence the majority of money raised from a sugary drinks duty for a Children’s Future Fund, which could be spent on improving children’s health by, for example, providing free school meals, or sustainably produced fruit and vegetable snacks in schools;
• Give an independent body the responsibility to oversee how the sugary drinks duty is implemented and make sure the revenue is spent effectively.
In the UK, 60% of adults are considered overweight and obese. Diet-related illnesses cost the NHS billions each year, and conditions such as type II diabetes and heart disease have also increased.
As well as combatting the growing obesity epidemic, successful implementation of the recommendations would greatly benefit the oral health of children today and those in future generations. That is why chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, fully backs Sustain’s report.
Dr Carter said: ‘Drinks packed with sugar have long been problematic to oral health. The Foundation has supported a number of policies designed to curb sugary drinks consumption, and the report put forward by Sustain is another step in the right direction.
‘Three in every ten children starting school have tooth decay, and around one in three 12 year-olds have visible dental decay. These figures support the need for health bodies and professionals across the country to work together in safeguarding the general and oral health of children.
‘The increase in consumption of sugary drinks is one of the key reasons for dental decay, particularly in children. By proposing the introduction of a duty on sugary drinks there will be an inevitable reduction in consumption and benefits for both general and dental health.
'Cutting down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks is one of the Foundation’s key messages, and any measure which helps reduce how often our teeth are exposed to sugary foods and drinks is one the Foundation wholeheartedly welcomes.’