Jamie Oliver backs calls for 'pop tax' on sugary drinks

Chef is introducing a 10p charge on sweet drinks in Jamie's Italian restaurants

Matt Dathan
Friday 26 June 2015 21:52 BST
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Jamie Oliver: 'I've seen first-hand the devastating effects that a poor diet and too much sugar is having on children's futures'
Jamie Oliver: 'I've seen first-hand the devastating effects that a poor diet and too much sugar is having on children's futures' (Getty Images)

Jamie Oliver has backed calls to introduce a “pop tax” on sugary drinks to tackle Britain’s obesity problem.

The celebrity chef, who is bringing in his own extra charge of 10p on all sweet drinks served in his Jamie’s Italian restaurants, said money raised from imposing a levy on all sugary drinks could go towards educating children about healthy lifestyles.

He voiced his support of a “pop tax” after Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, proposed plans to introduce it in Wales. It claimed it could cut the number of obese people in Wales by 8,300 and could raise as much as £45 million a year.

Plaid Cymru wants to use the funds to employ an extra 1,000 doctors in the principality. However the Labour-run Welsh government rejected the plan, saying it was not “sensible” long term policy.

Jamie Oliver: 'It's very good to hear that a political party is taking the issue of sugar tax seriously' (Getty)
Jamie Oliver: 'It's very good to hear that a political party is taking the issue of sugar tax seriously' (Getty) (Getty Images)

Last month George Freeman, the life sciences minister, became the first member of the government to hint that a sugar tax could be in the offing. He said food companies had a responsibility to cut down on the amount of sugar in their products and suggested that failure to do so could lead to penalties.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has ruled out introducing a sugar tax, insisting the government is looking at other means of encouraging people to eat healthier.

Mr Oliver, whose 10p levy on sugary drinks is a protest against the government’s refusal to introduce one, said: "It's very good to hear that a political party is taking the issue of sugar tax seriously.

"I've seen first-hand the devastating effects that a poor diet and too much sugar is having on children's futures and I firmly believe we need to take urgent action on this public health crisis.

"This is why I have decided to impose a 10p 'child health levy' on all soft drinks with added sugar across my UK restaurants with the money raised going directly to fund food education for children."

Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru’s spokeswoman for health, said support for a “pop tax” was gaining momentum.

She said: "Increasing consumption of sugar is currently one of the biggest problems we face in terms of public health, and it's time that we took positive action to stop this trend.

"In Wales, we have some of the highest rates of over-consumption of sugar and obesity, so we need to be at the cutting edge of tackling these issues."

"Plaid Cymru has long-announced our positive plans to introduce a sugary drinks levy in Wales, and it's good to see that Jamie Oliver is introducing similar voluntary measures in his restaurants as he continues to campaign for action."

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