'Sugar tax' call to tackle obesity

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File photo dated 04/11/10 of an overweight man as a

A "sugar tax" may have to be introduced to curb child and adult obesity, the chief medical officer for England has warned.

Speaking to the Commons Health Select Committee, Professor Dame Sally Davies said that being overweight had become "normalised" in Britain and the Government should regulate the food and drinks industry to protect people against the dangers of excess calorie consumption.

"We need to be both strong and prepared to regulate. I think that the science is going such that that we will find sugar is addictive," said Dame Sally.

"We haven't managed to get over to the public how calorie packed fruit juices are, smoothies are, colas and carbonated drinks. We need to have a big education to know one is fine, but not lots of them."

"We may need to move to some sort of sugar tax, but I hope we don't have to."In January, a group of health experts established the Action on Sugar campaign group which works to reduce the amount of sugar added to food and soft drinks and educate the public about ''hidden sugars''. Flavoured water, sports drinks, yoghurts, ketchup, ready meals and even bread have been identified by the group as some everyday foods that contain large amounts of sugar.

Dame Sally added that promoting physical education alone would not solve Britain's obesity crisis.

"I worry that we have re-sized a women's dress size so that a size 14 now was a size 12 when I was student. We have normalised being overweight," she said.

"We have to find a new way - not of ostracising people who are obese and making them feel bad about themselves - but somehow of helping them to understand this is pathological and will cause them harm.

"We have a generation of children who because they are overweight and lack activity may not live as long as my generation; they will be the first generation who will live less."

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