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Tax on fizzy drinks and curb on takeaway outlets to fight obesity: good idea or not?

(206 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 18-Feb-13 17:20:19


Today, doctors are calling on the government to levy an experimental 20% tax on sugary soft drinks and to make local councils limit the number of fast-food outlets outside schools, colleges and leisure centres - to help prevent the UK's obesity crisis becoming "unresolvable".

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (which represents nearly every doctor in the UK) says it wants measures like these brought in to break the cycle of "generation after generation falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death".

One in four adults in England is obese, and predictions are that obesity rates will soon rise to 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children.

The British Retail Consortium has countered by saying it's wrong to "demonise" fast-food outlets and it's down to parents to help children "build a healthy and responsible attitude to eating a balanced diet overall".

What do you think?

Do we all need measures like the doctors are suggesting to help us - and our children - stay at a healthy weight?

Or should we be left alone to eat - and feed our children - whatever we choose?

colditz Mon 18-Feb-13 17:21:36

Actually I think it would be fantastic to stop fast food places opening near comprehensive schools. I went to the chippy every day for two years when I was a teenager!

LouiseFisher Mon 18-Feb-13 17:22:15

I think that's a fantastic idea tbh! Cut down on it!

SchroSawMargeryDaw Mon 18-Feb-13 17:27:40

If they are going to use the extra money in tax to subsidise the price of healthy food, then yes.

If not, then no.

HorizonFocus Mon 18-Feb-13 17:28:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

iliketea Mon 18-Feb-13 17:33:50

I think it would be better to
1. reduce the price of healthy food, so it's cheaper to eat well
2. offer cheap cooking classes so people know how to cook from scratch / have cooking and nutrition as part of the national curriculum so children know how to cook.

If the "tax" is used for that, then it would be okay to tax unhealthy food.

NotADragonOfSoup Mon 18-Feb-13 17:34:35

limit the number of fast-food outlets outside schools, colleges and leisure centres

I agree with this bit but in all honesty, it's ignorance/apathy and not availability that is the problem.

sittinginthesun Mon 18-Feb-13 17:35:06

My gut feeling is that it is very good idea. We all know fizzy drinks are bad for you, but it takes a huge amount of self discipline to blank out the constant pressure to consume!

I don't drink fizzy drinks, as I suffered from terrible PMS in my late teens, and found that cutting out sugar was the solution. I simply won't have them in the house, won't buy them in shops and cafes etc, and both my children have therefore been brought up to avoid them. But, it actually takes a huge amount of effort. Too often the default option is junk, and I have to ask for water (at rip off prices!).

IMO opinion, the only solution is to tax them.

BreadForMyBREADGUN Mon 18-Feb-13 17:37:53

There is nothing good about fizzy drinks at all. Maybe if this legislation came on then the drinks companies would be forced to create healthier versions (though am possibly in dreamland with that one)

I also think shite like relentless should not be sold to under 16s

Manchesterhistorygirl Mon 18-Feb-13 17:41:45

Better education in school to help children how to learn from scratch, cheap or free tap water in restaurants would be more beneficial than yet another tax! I'd say when the Fsa get their own house in order then we should begin a discussion on taxes on healthy/unhealthy.

nextphase Mon 18-Feb-13 17:42:49

I don't think you can ban fast food outlets near all schools - our secondary school happens to back onto the only parade of shops in town. Does that mean we are all to be deprived of the occasional takeout because of the way the planning has worked?

I also agree with Horizon - it will need very careful wording to exclude what they want without demonising the things that are required in small amounts to cook successfully from home.

Equally are we going to add 20% tax to lager and champagne, and leave the normal vino alone? What about sparkling water????

fanoftheinvisibleman Mon 18-Feb-13 17:44:44

I may be in a minority but I resent the idea of a nanny state making our decisions for us. I am capable of deciding whether or not to have a fizzy drink for myself.

The fizzy drink levy is a good idea, but only if the tax generated goes towards healthy eating promotion in some way.

I dont really see how curbing takeaways will help. If people want to eat shit they will. Perhaps councils need to create incentives for more healthy eating options to be opened around schools/colleges etc so that its not damaging businesses or local economies!

sittinginthesun Mon 18-Feb-13 17:47:45

Fan - I know where you're coming from, but I guess that line of argument means you have to be against drug legislation, compulsory seat belts, speed limits, car MOT, building regulation controls. Isn't it just a case of where we draw the line?

FairyJen Mon 18-Feb-13 17:50:43

In theory great however what about shops that are already established by local schools??

In my experience people will buy what they like regardless however I agree that more education needs to be done and healthier options such come at a reduced price if tax is imposed on the unhealthy options

Gintonic Mon 18-Feb-13 17:55:49

Tax on fizzy drinks - yes definitely, as they haven't any nutritional value and are often aimed at children.

Limit on takeaway outlets - well I personally would like to see fewer take aways in general, not just near schools, as they create loads of litter and push out decent shops. But that would not be very fair on people who use them. At my school you were not allowed out at lunchtime until you were around 15, which might be a better way of preventing children/young people going to these places every day.

EstherRancid Mon 18-Feb-13 17:56:19

maybe the powers that be could do something to limit the constant bombardment we are subject due to advertising junk food?

there must be billions spent in advertising crap food/drink, the research and money that goes into it is astounding.

target this instead of the kids who want a treat now and again but see the likes of McDs and C-Cola advertising spots events?

EstherRancid Mon 18-Feb-13 17:57:09


(although spots is another good reason to give them up grin )

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 18-Feb-13 18:01:30

Better education in schools? Have you seen all the whinging threads about lunchboxes and parents' rights to put what they want in them?
You can do all the educating you like, until parents change the lifestyles on offer to their children, then obesity will continue to increase. Children may know what a healthy diet is in theory, but they can't implement it by themselves. Food education classes for adults would be more use.
More exercise as a family, less junk being eaten.
Yes to tax on useless crap like fizzy drinks, but lower the price of fruit and veg.

MadBusLady Mon 18-Feb-13 18:10:18

Do they actually know a 20% levy would work as a deterrent? I get twitchy when doctors give fiscal advice rather than medical advice. It sounds suspiciously like the kind of figure you'd pluck out of thin air as "about right for a tax" if you didn't know anything about the taxation system.

I am generally uneasy about the tax system being used to influence behaviour. The purpose of the tax system is to raise revenue in a fair way to allow governments to spend money on the things they need to spend it on. You start clouding that purpose, you will get bad, over-complex law.

Saying that, fizzy drinks are the devil's work. A lot of people joke about being "addicted" to diet coke, but I actually think they are. I used to be.

AppleStroodles Mon 18-Feb-13 18:18:05

Yes! I think it's a fantastic idea, the 'Nanny State' yes, but when the sale of these drinks is making an impact of the nations health (financially & otherwise) I think they are within their rights to attempt to curb sales.

AppleStroodles Mon 18-Feb-13 18:19:04

Yes to lowering the price of fruit and veg too.... Works both ways!!!!

ouryve Mon 18-Feb-13 18:20:39

People happily pay well over a quid for a small bottle of sugary fizzy stuff. I don't think taxing it is going to make any difference.

swallowedAfly Mon 18-Feb-13 18:22:25

how about just banning fructose glucose syrup and trans fat like everyone knows needs doing instead of pretending a longer queue at the chip shop and 10p on a can of coke will do anything?

if nanny actually gives a shit than nanny should do something that actually makes a difference but nanny seems to care more about global companies than health in reality and wouldn't want to tell them what to do.

instead it can patronise us with a coke tax and less takeaways hmm

MimsyBorogroves Mon 18-Feb-13 18:30:25

No, I don't like it.

As said upthread, it's a nanny state thing. I can make my own decisions about fizzy drinks and takeaway.

The fact is, the price of decent food has soared. I hate cooking but I am in a fortunate position where I can buy decent ingredients and force myself to do it - for the good of my family. I can afford cookbooks/Internet and look up nice recipes that are easy enough and that my family will like.

For those who don't have the time, or the drive to do so for whatever reason I can see the appeal of a takeaway as a regular thing. Where I lived previously, where food choices are an issue and a barrier to healthy living, there was a takeaway within easy reach of most of the houses on the estate. For £2 you could get a huge kebab and chips, or fish and chips, or curry and chips. It was shite quality, yes - and I was in a position where I could see this and make the right choices. A decent supermarket was a bus ride away - another prohibitive factor.

Spend money on teaching children how to cook healthy food. But most importantly - teach them how to cook things that they will want to eat. Even if it's home made chicken nuggets and potato wedges. Make it translate to what they see at home, what they want at home. It's okay teaching children to make "staple" foods but if it's not what they have at home, particularly when they're not the ones in charge of what's on the home menu, then the skills will be lost.

The schools I worked in would do something similar - decide on a dish as a class, cook it in an after school club and invite the parents in to share a meal. For some children it was - literally - the only time they could remember sitting down and eating with their families.

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