Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, has said that freedom from EU law will mean the UK could introduce tougher rules on the food and drink industry. He has suggested that a post-Brexit Britain could see the introduction of measures like compulsory calorie labels on packaging. Other ideas under consideration include labels showing how many spoonfuls of sugar each packet contains and potentially even a sugar tax.
Spiralling obesity levels have left Britain the sixth fattest nation in the world, with rates reportedly rising faster than those in the US. An official report by Public Health England says the NHS could save £15bn and almost 80,000 lives in a generation by weaning the public off its sweet tooth. Today’s children and teenagers are consuming three times the recommended level of sugar (adults fare almost as badly).
However, sugar taxes and other such regulations are very controversial and many people want to see less Government interference. According to the 2017 Nanny State Index, produced by the European Policy Information Centre, the UK is one of the worst countries in Europe to “eat, drink, smoke and vape”. According to the report, the UK government is only beaten by Finland when it comes to restrictions, bans and taxes on such activities.
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