By Gloria Davies-Hunter, Children’s Health Fund Manager

SRA Member Tortilla, has announced it is levying 10p on all its drinks which contain added sugar. The proceeds of the sugar levy will be donated to The Children’s Health Fund, launched and run by the charity Sustain and supported by Jamie Oliver.

Richard Morris, Managing Director said “We’re delighted to be part of this campaign. It is essential to raise awareness of the dangers of consuming too much sugar, particularly amongst children. We hope that our involvement in the campaign will continue to raise awareness of this issue as well as divert funds to a worthwhile cause.”

The levy will be made across Tortilla’s stores nationwide from 19th October 2015.

Tortilla becomes the second SRA Member to make this move, following in the footsteps of Leon.

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 UK kids now leave primary school overweight or obese. Tooth decay is the most common reason the 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.

The petition launched to get Government to take action and introduce a duty on sugary drinks reached over 150,000 signatures and has resulted in a short investigation by the Health Select Committee ahead of the Childhood Obesity Strategy which will be published by Government at the end of the year.

Ben Reynolds of Sustain added, “While government are dithering we are excited that the restaurant industry is taking the lead, showing that it can be done, and we are pleased to be helping set up the Children’s Health Fund to make sure money raised will make a difference to children across the UK”.

The fund, overseen by an independent board, is set to open for applications by Christmas 2015 with grants awarded to projects focussing on promotion of drinking water to children as an alternative to sugary drinks.

In a related development, Brighton and Hove Council has become the first British city to introduce a voluntary “sugar tax”. The council is calling on food and drink shops to impose a 10p surcharge on all sugary drinks, with the proceeds to be put into The Children’s Health Fund.

Tom Scanlon, Brighton and Hove Director of Public Health, said: “Over the years sugar has been creeping into our diet, sometimes in ways we don’t even suspect,” he said. “We are consuming more sugar than ever before and this is having extremely serious effects on levels of tooth decay, obesity and diabetes.”

Local school caterer and SRA Member Eden has been limiting sugar by banning sweets, restricting biscuits, cakes and puddings and offering only small 150ml cartons of fruit juice.

For more information on the Children’s Health Fund and to get your restaurant involved see www.childrenshealthfund.org.uk