Fatty tax is gonna get you

Obese manIf the mammoth adverts for a well-known soft drink are anything to go by, the junk food
manufacturers must be genuinely worried about the government's idea for a 'fat tax'.

Now I'm not really one who takes much interest in television adverts but the latest one from Coca-Cola really stuck in my head, and it's supposed to. The two-minute advert is kick-starting a campaign about obesity and health and, yes, you read that right – the company whose main drink offers up 10 teaspoons of sugar in one can is giving the UK health tips.

In it we are told about the range of zero or low calorie drinks offered by the Coca-Cola brand, how being healthy is about treats in moderation and the benefits of physical activity.

It's all part of Coca-Cola's plan to convince us that it is taking obesity seriously and will also include the launch of a reduced calorie Sprite in the UK, a new Coke Zero advert and a commitment to providing clear calorie information and encouraging people to exercise.

Unfortunately the brand will need a lot more than a two-minute advert to convince us that any of its soft drinks could be described as healthy, and I'm sure the government isn't going to fall for it either.

The US has already seen these adverts appear and they haven't gone down well, being described as 'damage limitation' by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The fact of the matter is that companies that churn out junk food are scared that their time is up and that a fat tax lies just around the corner. A group of 61 organisations in the UK earlier this year called for a 7p-a-can 'fat tax' on sugary soft drinks and another 20p-per-litre tax on bottles to try and curb childhood obesity.

The £1 billion a year that the tax would raise would go towards promoting healthy eating and the prime minister has been sympathetic to the idea in the past.

Poor eating habits are doing a terrible amount of damage to our healthcare system, with diet-related Type 2 diabetes and heart disease alone costing the NHS £6 billion a year. This figure is predicted to hit £50 billion by 2050, a massively unsustainable cost.

The government slaps taxes on tobacco and alcohol because of the pressures they put our system under, so why not tackle the cost of the nation's sweet tooth before it gets out of control.