Children's health and food

Campaigning for a new fiscal incentive towards healthier food and drink

With Sustain, the Obesity Health Alliance and The Food Foundation

Key partnership information 

What we’re doing together

We have joined forces with Sustain, Obesity Health Alliance and The Food Foundation to build political and public support for a new fiscal measure – a financial charge collected by the Government – on the food industry, with the aim of making healthy, affordable food more available for everyone.  

Over the course of the partnership, we will bring together the existing and emerging evidence demonstrating the impact of previous measures, for example the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL). We will commission research to explore the potential impact of a fiscal measure on the cost of living for families. 

The evidence will inform the creation of a campaign to make the case for incentivising manufacturers to improve their recipes and disincentivising the manufacture, marketing, sale and consumption of food and drink high in fat, salt and/or sugar (HFSS). 

Any new measure should be progressive and make healthier diets accessible to all families, including those currently worst affected by dietary inequalities. We will also recommend that the revenue from any levy is used to support low income families to access healthier food and invested to tackle food inequalities and ultimately improve children’s health. 

Aims of the partnership

Over the next two and half years, we aim to: 

  • Build further evidence and research insight to inform further fiscal interventions for healthier food and drink 
  • Advocate for Government commitment to exploring future fiscal measures as part of strategies to tackle obesity and dietary inequalities. 
  • Work with parliamentary and political bodies to include fiscal business incentives in their policies on obesity and health disparities.  
  • Establish a clear platform of public support for healthier food fiscal interventions. 

Connection to our strategy

All children should be able to access healthy food, no matter where they live. We know that families want affordable, tasty, convenient and healthier food, but the current market is dominated by cheap unhealthy options.  

We have an opportunity to change food environments for our children and build on the impact of measures like the SDIL. Since its introduction in 2018, this levy has reduced overall sugar in soft drinks by 44%, and household intake of sugar in soft drinks by an average of 10%, with higher reduction amongst more people from disadvantaged communities and households.

More about Sustain

Sustain is an alliance of over 100 non-profit organisations together with local networks and communities working together for a better system of food, farming and fishing. Together, we advocate food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture, and promote equity.

Our children deserve to grow up in a healthier world. We’re excited to have this opportunity to work in partnership with other leading food and health organisations, building on the success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Targeted fiscal measures have the power to speed up business action to make healthier food and drinks more available for all, where voluntary initiatives have failed to deliver. They also have the potential to raise millions of pounds that could be used to fund more initiatives to secure a healthier future for our children. It’s a win-win.

More about Obesity Health Alliance

The Obesity Health Alliance is a coalition of over 45 health organisations including the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, the British Medical Association and medical royal colleges. The goal of the Obesity Health Alliance is to prevent obesity-related ill-health by supporting evidence-based population level policies to help address the wider environmental factors that lead to excess body weight.

As the National Food Strategy says, we need to break the ‘junk food cycle’. The food industry is operating within a damaging economic model that is locking the nation into ever-rising obesity. The Government can correct this market failure by incentivising both supply and demand for healthy food to rebalance the system and turn what is a vicious cycle into a virtuous one.

More about The Food Foundation

The Food Foundation is a UK charity working to influence food policy and business practice, shaping a sustainable food system which makes healthy diets affordable and accessible for all.

We think it is possible to incentivise the food system so that it makes healthy, affordable food accessible for everyone. Intervening in the economics of the system is vital to break the commercial incentives which currently favour the sale and consumption of junk food, but it must be done in a way which helps everyone, especially those on a low income.