We must fight obesity with cola tax, say 'busybody' doctors
Doctors' group calling for fizzy drink tax and ban on junk food ads accused of megalomania
IT'S TIME to act on Britain's obesity epidemic, says the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC), a body representing the majority of the UK's 220,000 doctors, which has called for drinks laden with sugar to be taxed at 20 per cent.
As part of a 10-point plan to combat obesity, the AOMRC is also seeking a ban on TV advertisements for junk food before the 9pm watershed, fewer fast food outlets near schools and to outlaw unhealthy food in hospitals.
The doctors describe obesity, which costs the NHS £5.1bn per year, as "the greatest public health crisis facing the UK", predicting more than half adults will be overweight by 2050.
For The Guardian's health editor, Sarah Boseley, the report does not go far enough. Although it is good to see doctors "tackling the much wider issues" behind obesity, such as the cost of fatty food and drink, she believes health policy requires a bolder prescription: a central figure to unite "all the strands and departments and special interest groups".
Boseley says Britain could benefit from a non-political "obesity tsar" figure, pointing out that The Royal College of Physicians – members of the AOMRC – called for such an appointment to be made last month.
Writing in online magazine Spiked, Rob Lyons is sceptical, saying we need a 10-point plan for "busybody medics". "We certainly do need urgent action: to get the government, health campaigners and megalomaniac medics out of our lives," he writes.
As for obesity, Lyons points out life expectancies have been slowly increasing. "If we're not all dropping like flies - in fact, quite the reverse - what justification is there for claims of an obesity time-bomb?" he asks
TV chef and healthy eating campaigner Jamie Oliver backs the report, writing on his website that we should act on "the clearest warning sign yet that the medical profession is deeply concerned about obesity".
The AOMRC's chair, Professor Terence Stephenson, said doctors were just trying to help people, not "nanny" them. "We didn't hear from a single person who said they liked being overweight. Everybody we met wanted help from the state and society," he told the BBC.