Prime Minister David Cameron needs to be “brave” and back a tax on sugar, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has said.
Oliver told MPs on the House of Commons’ Health Committee: "We should be big and bold. Who is running the country? The businesses who are profiting from ill health or is it us?"
He believes a 20 per cent sugar tax on a litre of drink could raise up to £1bn, and would like to see the money split between the NHS and primary schools.
The department of health downplayed the likelihood of a sugar tax, it said in a statement that the governments “has committed to a tax lock to avoid raising the cost of living and to promote UK productivity and economic growth.”
"The causes of obesity are complex, caused by a number of dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors, and tackling it will require a comprehensive and broad approach,” it added.
Some were heavily critical of the plan. Chris Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said they were inefficient and would be damaging to people on low incomes.
“The UK should learn from international evidence – in Denmark a fat tax was instituted and abandoned just 15 months later – and avoid going down this route.”
“If Jamie Oliver thinks sugar is so dangerous, he should stop selling fizzy drinks altogether. He should also stop selling recipe books full of sugar-laden cakes, biscuits, drinks and main courses. He won’t, of course, because as a businessman he understands the concept of free choice and as a chef he understands tasty food.”