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Cash from sugar tax to encourage physical activity!

The UK government has published draft legislation for its planned sugar tax on soft drinks, with revenue from the levy being used in programmes to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity.The publication of the document comes as the city of Bristol is considering implementing its own local sugar tax. 

The UK government tax, which is expected to come into force in April 2018, is predicted to raise £520m in the first year. 

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy will be charged to producers and importers of soft drinks with added sugar. It will apply to volumes of added sugar drinks with total sugar content of 5 grams or more per 100 millilitres, with a higher rate for drinks with 8 grams or more per 100 millilitres. 

The document says: "Across England the government will invest the revenue during this parliament in giving school-aged children a brighter and healthier future, including programmes to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity and balanced diets.” 

The estimated indirect cost to the UK economy from obesity is between £27bn and £46bn. The direct cost to the NHS includes £6.1bn a year on overweight and obesity-related ill health and £8.8bn for type 2 diabetes. 

Dr Max Davie, assistant officer for health promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), welcomed the draft paper: "The sugary drinks that will be affected by this tax have no nutritional benefit and often contain levels of sugar that are above a child’s daily recommended limit. These drinks are a major contributor to the high sugar intakes of children, particularly teenagers, and we are in no doubt that they are, in part, contributing to this country’s obesity crisis.” 

Elsewhere, the city of Bristol is taking its own steps to cut sugar intake. 

The local council is joining forces with chef Jamie Oliver's Food Foundation to become a ‘Sugar Smart City’. The authority is considering a voluntary local sugar tax. 

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: "Eating too much sugar is contributing to rising obesity levels and dental problems, which are two significant factors linked to health inequalities in Bristol. We must address this if we want our city to be a fairer place where health and wellbeing is improving.” 

Bristol City Council is also working with Bristol Sport, Bristol Sport Foundation and the University of the West of England to promote healthy vending choices; sugar smart workplaces; and a food award for restaurants and takeaways who commit to making positive changes.