The British Medical Association’s call for a 20% tax on sugary drinks is misguided and will not solve the country’s obesity problem.

The NFRN has hit out at the British Medical Association’s ‘sugar tax’ proposal, which was announced in its Food For Thought report published this month.

The report calls for a 20% tax to be slapped on soft drinks with a high sugar content, to subsidise cheaper fruit and veg prices. “If a tax of at least 20% is introduced, it could reduce the prevalence of obesity in the UK by around 180,000 people,” said professor Sheila Hollins, board of science chair at the BMA.

Paul Baxter, NFRN chief executive, said adding an extra levy on sugary drinks will not price these items out for consumers. “While the notion of a tax on sugary drinks which can be used to offset the cost of fruit and vegetables is laudable, it is misguided,” he said. “Education, not legislation, is crucial to raise awareness of the health impacts of eating and drinking sugary products and change people’s habits.”

Independent retailer Serge Khunkhun of Premier Woodcross in Wolverhampton, said a price rise wouldn’t deter people from buying sugary drinks. “You’ll only see more value brands popping up to fill the void,” he said. “There’s also so many low-sugar and stevia brands now, and they’re not coming from regulation but from individual choice and demand.