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XXL Britain: Tonight

Nearly half the nation would support a sugar tax on fizzy drinks, according to a survey released today by ITV’s Tonight Programme.

And it could raise up to a billion pounds a year towards projects to improve children’s health, says a health campaigner interviewed for the programme “XXL Britain".

Some 45% of respondents agreed with an added tax on sugary drinks, states the survey conducted by OnePoll for the Tonight Series.

More than three-quarters of those supporting an extra tax said they would be happy with a 10% to 20% surcharge so long as the money raised went to support children’s health initiatives. Two thousand people responded to the survey.

Malcolm Clark, Children’s Food Campaign Credit: ITV / Tonight

Sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugar. A sugary drinks tax will say very clearly: here is a product that we need to be drinking less of. We can use the money raised - £300m to a billion in pounds in the first year – to pay for programmes which will improve children’s health.”

– Malcolm Clark

Earlier this week, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver called on David Cameron to be brave and introduce a sugar tax on fizzy drinks.

Ian Wright, Food & Drink Federation Credit: ITV / Tonight

I think extra taxes won’t work and they are a bad idea. It’s not right to demonise one nutrient against all the others,”

– Ian Wright

The Government says it plans to launch a new childhood obesity strategy in the coming months.

The programme also talks to Deborah Snelling who has been fighting a battle with her weight for three decades.

Deborah Snelling Credit: ITV / Tonight

The 47-year-old, who now has diabetes, is desperate for a gastric bypass which she reckons will help get her life back on track.

I’m always ill. I have knee pain, I have got back ache and I just don't want to feel like this anymore. It would change my life. I would be able to go out with my grandchildren. I will be able to enjoy life I will be able to get a career back."

– Deborah Snelling

Medical treatment related to obesity is costing the country over £8 billion every year.

More people die from a bad diet than smoking and being overweight can increase the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and having a stroke.

Professor Susan Jebb, Oxford University Credit: ITV / Tonight

I don't think people have understood how much ill health is being caused by obesity. When you do wake up to that you realise that the actions we’re taking are just woefully inadequate.”

– Professor Susan Jebb

Nearly 10% of children entering reception class these days are officially obese, and that figure doubles to nearly 20% by the time they leave primary school.

The real crisis is recognising that the numbers of children who are overweight and obese is increasing year on year. We know that the health risks associated with obesity relate not only to how large you are but how long you have carried that excess weight. So people who are developing problems as children are probably going to run into health problems in their twenties and thirties.”

– Professor Susan Jebb

England’s most overweight district is Copeland, in Cumbria. Three in four people living in this part of Cumbria are officially overweight or obese.

St Begh's Catholic Junior School Credit: ITV / Tonight

We find local school St Begh’s Catholic Junior School is fighting back by organising healthy eating classes so pupils can take home the good food message to parents and grandparents.

And we meet campaigners who are opposing the building of a new McDonald’s Restaurant near to Newcastle’s biggest secondary school.

If we can’t embed healthy eating from a young age then how on earth are we going to support the reduction of the obesity crisis?"

– Sarah Holmes-Carne, Head at Kenton School

She fears her pupils will spend too much of their dinner money in the fast food outlet.

But McDonald’s told the programme: “Our customers are offered a choice of foods, with full nutrition information, so they can make the decision themselves on what they eat as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. We pride ourselves on working with local councils and residents when choosing new restaurant sites. In this case, the location of the local school in no way formed any part of our decision. Consideration of likely sales from children have not been factored in to any sales projections.”

For decades, scientists have been trying to come up with an effective weight-loss drug.

Pioneering weight-loss treatment at Imperial College London Credit: ITV / Tonight

Now Professor Sir Stephen Bloom, of Imperial College London tells us that he is trialling a naturally produced hormone that makes you feel full - to help combat over-eating.

It could eventually take the place of bariatric surgery. But it’ll be several years before the treatment is widely available, if it proves successful.

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