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Sugar tax to be introduced in hospitals

Sugar tax to be introduced in hospitals

It's no secret that sugar is now the biggest diet enemy, swiftly taking the place of its predecessors, fat and calories. While talk of a sugar tax has been touted by the British government for some time, the NHS are now taking matters into their own hands and marking up the prices of the sugary snacks available in its hospitals and health centres.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, unveiled his plans to add a sugar levy to Britain's The Guardian newspaper on Sunday (17Jan16). He hopes that by 2020 the tax will come into force in hundreds of acute, mental health and community service hospitals and every local health centre. The initiative has been drawn up to help curb obesity figures, and will see vending machine snacks and drinks and the food and beverages sold in hospital cafes retail at a higher price if they are laden with sugar.

"Because of the role that the NHS occupies in national life, all of us working in the NHS have a responsibility not just to support those who look after patients but also to draw attention to and make the case for some of the wider changes that will actually improve the health of this country," Simon told the publication.

"We will be consulting on introducing an NHS sugar tax on various beverages and other sugar-added foods across the NHS which would be enforced over time as contracts for food catering and the shops that are in the foyers of hospitals come up for renewal over the next three to five years over a rolling basis."

He added that obesity is one of the biggest dangers to the population, both to adults and children, with illnesses like type 2 diabetes one of the biggest health problems associated with being overweight.

It's also his belief that the current obesity crisis has the potential to bring down the NHS. "It’s also the sustainability of the NHS itself," he said. "Bad diet has overtaken smoking as the biggest single cause of life-style related illness for the first time.

"Smoking still kills 80,000-plus people a year, smoking is still a huge problem. But it turns out that diet has edged ahead."

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