A 20 per cent 'sugar tax' should be imposed on food and drink in a bid to help tackle the country's obesity and health crisis, according to a new report by Public Health England.
The report warns that eating and drinking vast amounts of high-sugar products is leading to weight gain, tooth decay and other health problems.
The amount of sugar people eat should be cut by at least half, it adds - and, if successful, it could save the NHS around £500 million every year.
The document goes on to make a series of recommendations as to how the government could help make this happen.
- Introduce a tax of 10 to 20 per cent on high-sugar food and drink
- Cutting down on cut-price offers in supermarkets, convenience stores, cafés, restaurants and takeaways
- Imposing restrictions on advertising of high-sugar food and drink
- Clearly define what constitutes a "high-sugar food"
- Introduce a carefully-structured and supervised programme to reduce sugar content in everyday food and drink items, combined with reductions in portion sizes
- Restrict the public sector to provide and sell healthier foods - including in hospitals and leisure centres
- Accredited diet and health training courses for everyone who works in the catering, fitness and leisure sectors and others within local authorities
- Launching a public awareness campaign
Currently, the report states, sugar intake across the board is above recommended levels - making up between 12 and 15 per cent of dietary energy.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) said this should be around five percent.
Over-consumption in England has led to a quarter of adults, 10% of four- and five-year-olds and 19% of 10- to 11-year-olds being classed as clinically obese, it says - which comes with health consequences which cost the NHS £5.1 billion a year to treat.
Researchers found that high levels of advertising regularly bombard people - particularly children - encouraging them to buy sugary treats, while high-sugar foods are on price promotion deals more often than any other food type.
Families, individuals and official organisations all have a role to play in helping tackle the problem, the report adds.