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Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston calls for labels on drinks to show how many teaspoons of sugar they contain

Credit: PA Images

Dr. Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP for Totnes who chairs the Health Select Committee in Parliament, has called on the Government to ensure labels on drinks state how many teaspoons of sugar they contain.

She was among several MPs calling for the Government to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks as part of a package of measures to reduce sugar intake after a petition from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver came before Parliament.

Oliver's petition, which has received almost 152,000 signatures, notes £1 billion could be raised every year by charging an extra 7p in tax on a regular-sized can of soft drink which contains added sugar.

The petitioners argue this money should be protected and used to develop NHS and school strategies to deal with childhood obesity and diet-related diseases.

Jamie Oliver's petition on sugary drinks was discussed at the Health Select Committee. Credit: PA Images

Dr. Wollaston, who called for a package of measures to tackle the issues, said: "I think Jamie Oliver in his presentation to us made a very compelling case for let's just put the teaspoons on the drinks."

She added: "What you need to have is clear information which says does this contain 12, 13, six and... I think it helps industry if people can clearly see they've made an effort to make a lower sugar product but let's allow that within clear labelling."

Earlier Dr Wollaston also denied a sugar tax on soft drinks is "regressive and hits the poor", saying: "Look at who is already hit by this problem - the burden of childhood obesity falls on the poorest children in our community and what we know from experience in Mexico is that a 10% levy on sugary drinks has led to a 6% reduction in consumption, but perhaps more importantly it's led to a 9% reduction in consumption among the heaviest users and that's the point here."


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