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Thu 3rd Sep 2015 - Leon to add 10p levy to sugary drinks in support of Jamie Oliver campaign
Leon to add 10p levy to sugary drinks in support of Jamie Oliver campaign: Healthy eating brand Leon is to add a 10p levy to sugary drinks. The move follows calls by chef Jamie Oliver and Sustain for the government to take action on sugary sweetened drinks and fund food education initiatives. The Children’s Health Fund has been set up by Oliver and Sustain, with funds from a self-imposed sugary drinks levy by Oliver’s UK restaurants. Leon is the first restaurant group to join Oliver’s UK restaurants in adopting the levy with their funds also going to Sustain. Jamie Oliver and Sustain have launched a petition calling on the UK government to urgently introduce a sugary drinks tax. If over 100,000 people sign the petition then the government must consider debating the issue in parliament. Experts believe a tax of just 7p per regular-sized can of soft drink with added sugar could generate £1 billion per year which Jamie and Sustain believe should be ring-fenced to support much needed preventative strategies in the NHS and schools around childhood obesity and diet-related disease. Doctors, dentists, dietitians and many other public health experts are already behind a mandatory sugary drinks tax. Jamie Oliver said: “I’ve spoken to some of the brightest people in the medical world over the last few years and they all agree that action is urgently needed if we don’t want the NHS to crumble completely because of the costs of diet-related disease like type-2 diabetes. One doctor recently told me that diet-related disease is one of the defining crises of our time. We need the government to step up.” Following the launch of his documentary Sugar Rush, Jamie and Sustain have also set up a Children’s Health Fund. The aim of the fund is to get restaurants and cafes to volunteer to put a 10p levy on their soft drinks with added sugar. The funds raised from the levy in participating restaurants will go to children’s health and food education initiatives. Jamie’s UK restaurants now all carry the levy, including his 41-strong group, Jamie’s Italian. Naturally fast food chain Leon, which began with a mission to bring good food to the high street, has already signed up, and other restaurants are in final discussions. John Vincent, Leon co-founder and chief executive, said: “Since we started Leon in 2004 we have been helping people eat a diet low in sugar. In that time, we’ve seen people and companies become even more addicted to the white stuff. It’s a human crisis as well as an economic one. I hope Leon is the first of many restaurants to join Jamie in adding a 10p tax to sugary drinks and create this positive change. We’re very interested to hear our customers’ views on whether this is the right way to do so.” Sugary drinks are often high in calories but of limited nutritional value, and many health experts are increasingly concerned about their contribution to weight gain and type-2 diabetes. Terrifyingly, one third of our kids now leave primary school overweight or obese. Tooth decay is the most common reason that children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital – 26,000 a year for multiple extractions under anaesthetic – and type-2 diabetes is costing the NHS around £9 billion a year.

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