Local Government Association says that junk food tax 'should be used to fight obesity'
The NHS is spending £1 million an hour on diabetes: a tenth of its annual budget
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Friday 11 July 2014
The Treasury should divert £1 billion from the annual £5 billion it raises from VAT on junk foods, confectionery and unhealthy takeaways and allow local government authorities to use the cash to tackle the causes of Britain’s obesity crisis.
The radical policy call by the Local Government Association (LGA) – which was given responsibility for improving public health last year – claims it can make the money “work harder” at preventing the rise of obesity and the related epidemic of type 2 diabetes.
The cost of tackling obesity for the National Health Service is estimated at £5 billion. Although there has been a renewed focus on interventions, such as weight-loss surgery, the LGA says not enough is being done on early prevention and creating healthier lifestyles.
The NHS is spending £1 million an hour on diabetes, a tenth of its annual budget. The LGA wants the Treasury to top up its current £2.8 billion public health budget for England and Wales by diverting 20 per cent of the VAT raised from so-called “sin tax” foodstuffs, such as confectionery and takeaways.
An LGA spokesman said “radical action was needed and an obesity action fund would deliver extra money for councils already commissioning weight-management services, exercise referral schemes and extending the offer of reduced-cost or free sport”.
LGA chairman, David Sparks, added: “By taking a slice of VAT we could help transform the lives and futures of obese and overweight people.”
New draft guidelines from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are aiming to reduce the debilitating complications of type 2 diabetes by expanding those eligible for weight-loss surgery.
Currently only those with life-threatening obesity qualify for surgery on the NHS. However, by lowering the qualification level, there are fears that the NHS may struggle to fund the additional cases.
The LGA says that although the new NICE guidelines may be necessary, the focus on obesity is in the wrong place.
The Treasury were contacted last night and asked for their reaction to the LGA’s proposal. No comment was received.
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Life & Style blogs
Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
Fake goats’ cheese found in supermarkets
Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
Uber France apologises for sexist promotion offering men free rides with 'incredibly hot chicks' as drivers
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
- 1 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...
£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...
£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...
£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...