By: Andrew Sparrow
the health secretary, has described the rise in childhood obesity as a “national emergency” and promised a “gamechanging” response from the government. ,
In an interview on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he said the government would introduce either a sugar tax or something “equally robust” when it publishes its childhood obesity strategy.
Hunt was speaking after the chef told the same programme that he and fellow campaigners would “get more ninja” and “less nice” if the government refused to introduce a sugar tax, of which he is a longstanding supporter.
Until relatively recently David Cameron was firmly opposed to imposing a tax on sugary drinks, with the government instead focusing on trying to persuade the food and drinks industry to reduce sugar content voluntarily.
But Although still reluctant in principle to impose new taxes, he suggested he was now considering introducing a sugar tax because the obesity crisis was so serious.
Hunt told Marr: “We have got to do something about this. I’ve got a one-year-old daughter, and by the time she reaches adulthood a third of the population will be clinically obese. One in 10 will have type 2 diabetes. It is a national emergency.”
He said he agreed with Oliver that action was needed and that he wanted “a gamechanging moment, a robust strategy.”
He went on: “The issue here is: do what it takes to make sure that children consume less sugar. Because we have got this terrible problem: we are the most obese nation in the EU.”
Hunt said Britain had a good record on public health, citing the reduction of teenage smoking rates to below 5% as an example, and said an effective strategy would have to target not just manufacturers, but retailers, schools and parents too.
He said introducing a sugar tax was still just one option the government was considering, but that if it were not adopted, the alternative would have to be equally effective.
Oliver told the programme the government should be “brave” that he would be “really, really, really upset” if the government did not introduce a sugar tax.
Asked how he and fellow campaigners would respond if the childhood obesity strategy did not include a sugar tax, he replied: “We’ll have to change our strategy, get more ninja, go a bit more underground and a little bit less nice.
“And I think we need to try and get them out of power as soon as possible. Child health has to be central to a healthy, prosperous economy. It doesn’t matter what government it is. I don’t think it will be pretty.”
Originally Published: The Guardian