Doctors Demand for Sugar Tax in the United Kingdom

September 5, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. demand / dɪˈmænd / (v.) – to urgently ask for something
Example: The landlady demands for immediate payment.

2. sugary / ˈʃʊg ə ri / (adj.) – referring to anything that has a lot of sugar
Example: I love sugary pastries.

3. revenue / ˈrɛv ənˌyu / (n.) – the money generated from collecting tax
Example: The increase in tax doubled this year’s revenue.

4. subsidize / ˈsʌb sɪˌdaɪz / (v.) – to help pay for something
Example: The government subsidizes the elderly’s medical care.

5. levy / ˈlɛv i / (v.) – to use one’s authority to demand something
Example: The local authorities levied a $5 million fine on our company.


Read the text below.
The British Medical Association (BMA) is demanding that the government impose a 20% tax on sugary drinks to help fight obesity in the United Kingdom.

Representing more than 150,000 doctors, the BMA is proposing that additional taxes be placed on unhealthy food, soft drinks, fruit drinks, and other sugary drinks. The purpose of imposing the tax is to discourage consumers, especially children, to buy these food products. The tax revenue could then be used to subsidize fruits and vegetables, thus decreasing their prices.

The BMA published in a report that the increase in tax will lower the number of obese people in the United Kingdom by about 180,000. Currently, 25% of the United Kingdom’s adult population is already obese. But by 2030, a third of the total British population is expected to be obese because of lack of exercise and poor eating habits. 

In response to the BMA’s demand, the government verified that it will not be putting a 20% tax on sugary drinks. Nonetheless, a spokesperson from the Department of Health said that the government considers obesity a serious problem, with officials working on different strategies to address this problem.

While the British government does not approve of the sugar tax, other countries have already implemented this strategy. These countries include Mexico, Hungary [HUHNG-guh-ree], and France. Berkeley [BURK-lee], a city in California, also imposed a sugar tax on sugary drinks. San Francisco also attempted to levy tax on sugary drinks, but it failed to get enough votes from the public.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Given the chance, would you vote against or in favor of the sugar tax? Why or why not?
·         What else can the United Kingdom do to lessen its obesity rate?

Discussion B

·         Does your country also experience obesity-related issues? Why or why not?
·         Do you think weight is an accurate measure of a person’s health? Why do you say so?

September 5, 2015