Sugar tax decision delayed until summer after Government postpones obesity strategy report

The Children's Obesity Strategy report was expected to be published in February 

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The Independent Online

Campaign groups are furious after the Government confirmed that it is delaying a decision on the sugar tax by postponing the publication of a report into childhood obesity until the summer.

The Department of Health is understood to be delaying publication of the report to make sure they get it right.

Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said that the delay was unforgivable.

"This constant delay in publishing the childhood obesity strategy is unforgiveable," Fry said.

"Minister of Health Jeremy Hunt regards childhood obesity as a 'great scandal' and has promised draconian and robust action to address it. But what have we got? Total inaction," he added.

The Children's Obesity Strategy report was expected to be published in February but Government departments were reportedly in disagreement over key areas.

Ministers are debating whether to include giving power to local authorities to stop fast food restaurants from opening and whether to create a watchdog to monitor portion sizes and the amount of sugar in fizzy drinks.

There have been reports that a controversial sugar tax, which would increase the price of unhealthy products, would be dropped. But a spokesman from the Department of Health said that this was not the case.

"We are now confirming that the childhood obesity strategy will be published in summer," the spokesman said.

"The strategy will be a key step forward in helping our children live healthier lives, but there is still work to be done to get it right."

Approving a 20 per cent levy on sugar drinks would signal a U-turn by David Cameron. He said in January that he didn't want to tax unhealthy drinks, but that a new strategy was needed.

His spokeswoman said there were “more effective ways of tackling this issue than putting a tax on sugar”. 

Cameron said: “I don’t really want to put new taxes onto anything.

“But we do have to recognise that we face potentially in Britain something of an obesity crisis when we look at the effect of obesity on not just diabetes but the effect on heart disease, potentially on cancer, we look at the costs on the NHS, the life-shortening potential of these problems."