90% of hospital chiefs support launch of a 'sugar tax', ITV News finds

Up to 90 per cent of hospital bosses in England support the introduction of a sugar tax, ITV News can reveal.

We contacted all of the country's 155 acute NHS trusts - and of those who responded, nine out of ten chief executives told ITV News they would back a tax levied on high-sugar products, where the proceeds would be ploughed back into public health.

Only four said they opposed such a tax - and the rest declined to comment, some saying simply that it is a decision best left to politicians.

acute hospital trusts in England
agreed to speak on the subject
of those said they supported a sugar tax (90% of respondents)
said they opposed a sugar tax

Our poll follows the report from Public Health England last month, which concluded there was a case for introducing a sugar tax of up to 20 per cent on sugary foods and drinks.

But Number 10 has made it clear that David Cameron is not in favour of the idea - although his spokesperson confirmed to ITV News today that he still hasn't read the PHE report.

The number of people with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled in the past 20 years Credit: PA

Public Health England calculates the NHS could save £15 million a year if successful measures to reduce sugar consumption were introduced.

So it's perhaps not surprising the bosses of our cash-strapped hospitals back the tax. The latest figures show the NHS deficit reached £930m in the first quarter of this year - more than the whole of last year combined.

But managers and doctors alike point out the real cost of a high-sugar diet is to patients' health.

Over the past two decades, the number of people with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled.

Like others across the country, the Royal Free Hospital in London has seen a huge increase in the number of patients with the condition.

Public Health England recommended a higher tax on sugary products Credit: PA

Lead diabetes consultant Dr Miranda Rosenthal told ITV News:

Diabetes isn't a fair disease - some people who are overweight won't develop it, other people who are overweight will. But if you are more overweight your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes goes up.

If you consider two out of three adults in the UK are overweight or obese, that places a significant number of people at the risk of developing it.

– Dr Miranda Rosenthal, Royal Free Hospital, London

She personally backs the sugar tax, explaining: "If the food available to you has a lot of sugar in it, that is going to make it very difficult for people to make the right choices.

"Everything we can do to support people making the right choices is going to help."

What do you think?

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