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The shocking statistics behind calls for a 'sugar tax'

Soft drinks are the biggest sugar contributor for children. Credit: PA

It's the most comprehensive review that we have had of the effects of sugar on the nation's health and what might encourage us to lay off the sweet stuff

So what does the Public Health England - the independent body set up to improve the country's health - have to say about our national sweet tooth?

First why we need to do something - and the stats are pretty shocking - children in England are increasingly likely to be obese:

The figures show around a third of 10-11 year-olds are overweight or obese. Credit: Public Health England

We are all eating too much sugar - in school age children and teenagers, three times the amount of sugar that's recommended.

And if you look at the breakdown of where it's coming from - there are the more surprising hidden sugar culprits like breakfast cereals and fruit juices - but by far the largest contributor is soft drinks.

These are the contributors to sugar intake among children. Credit: Public Health England

That's why campaigners like Jamie Oliver are advocating a sugar tax - or paying extra for high sugar drinks. He claims it's already working in his restaurants. Brighton is trying it across the city, and Public Health England has found there is evidence that it works.

In Mexico, where there is a 10% tax on sweetened drinks, sales have fallen by 6%. Details of how similar initiatives have fared in countries such as the US, Norway and France can be found in this additional section from the Public Health England report.

New recommended sugar allowances for children. Credit: GOV.UK

The report concludes that there should be a whole package of measures to encourage us to go easy on sugar. These include reducing price promotions on high sugar foods, cutting back on marketing and advertising of them, reducing sugar in everyday food and drink, and a sugar tax.

Which makes it all rather surprising that the Prime Minister has ruled out that key recommendation without even reading the evidence.

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