16 March 2016

Leading oral health charity, the British Dental Health Foundation, has welcomed the government's decision to introduce a sugar levy on soft drinks in their latest budget, but now want to put pressure on the food and drinks industry to take real steps in helping to prevent tooth decay in the UK.

The sugar levy, announced by Chancellor George Osborne today, during his budget statement will come into force in 2018 and is estimated to raise £520m to help support school sports.

The levy will be imposed directly on soft drinks producers, rather than on consumers. Soft drinks manufacturers will be taxed according to the volume of the sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import.

Speaking on the announcement Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation said: "While welcoming what is obviously a positive step in addressing the current children's dental health crisis and ‘obesity epidemic' we are facing in the UK we feel that the measures outlined do not go far enough and more pressure needs to be put on manufacturers.

"By implementing the levy on manufactures and not the consumer pressure is now on companies to change their products; we have to now make sure that they do just this and not continue with their current models and pass the cost onto the consumer through price raises.

"Giving manufacturers two years to review their products and potentially reduce the amount of sugar in them is a positive move, and we now want to see food and drink manufacturers seriously evaluate their products with the aim reduce their sugar content or make it more obvious the amount of sugar in them.

"We are also happy to see the money raised by the levy go to towards school sports, but we feel some of these funds could have been used to educate the public about preventing oral health problems, which are some of the biggest health issues facing children in the UK.

"Tooth extraction is the single biggest reason for children being admitted to hospital for general anaesthetics in the UK and costs the NHS around £30 million per year, with the leading cause being tooth decay.

"In the last year alone more than 33,000 children were admitted to hospital for tooth extractions under general anaesthetic, this is incredibly shocking.

"What we have seen today with the sugar levy announcement is a very clear and effective statement from the government that they trying are tackling the nation's growing health problems but there is still so much more for them to do."

Sugary drinks will fall into two bands: one for total sugar content above 5g per 100ml, and a second, higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than 8g per 100ml with manufacturers taxed according to the volume of the sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import.