As Debts Grow, Should UK Employ a Soda Tax?

Days after the UK's Labour government unveiled plans to charge bankers a one-off tax for bonuses of over £25,000 ($40,700), health campaigners called for the government to tax carbonated cold drinks such as cola to curb the nation's growing obesity problem.

High-calorie drinks and a lack of exercise are partly to blame for one in five children in England being overweight, London newspaper The Times reported.

"Surely we should now bite the bullet and put a tax on fizzy drinks," Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum, told the Times. "In America they now regard fizzy drinks as much as responsible for calorie intake as fatty foods."

If you taxed soda, it would be reminding people exactly what they are doing to their waistlines, he added.

Soda
AP
Soda

Health campaigners noted that with the tax, the government could re-enter the contributions back into the UK's National Health Service (NHS) and possibly curb obesity going forward.

Estimates suggest that, without action, about 90 percent of today’s children could become overweight or obese adults by 2050, with the bill to the taxpayer estimated at £50 billion ($81.5 billion), according to The Times.

Among UK Chancellor Alistair Darling's announcements made in the pre-budget report were plans to implement a new 50 pence-a-month tax on landline telephone connections, as well as a 2 percent cut in bingo duty.

The UK is already facing a burgeoning budget deficit of over 12 percent of gross domestic product this year, with public borrowing rising to £178 billion ($290.1 billion). But Darling outlined plans to halve the UK deficit over the next four years.