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Sustain / Sugary Drinks Duty / Get the facts

What are the costs of obesity and diet-related ill-health?

What's wrong with children's diets?

Children are getting too many of their calories from sugars – on average three times the government’s recommended amount – and this also contributes to an overall overconsumption of calories.[i]

What impact does this have on children's weight?

One in five children is already overweight or obese by the time they start primary school; and one in three children are by the time they start secondary school.

Efforts to reverse the trend have thus far had little impact: with obesity rates continuing to rise for 11-15 year olds, and for children living in more deprived areas.

What impact does obesity have on children's health?

Childhood obesity is associated with conditions such as insulin resistance, hypertension, the early signs of heart disease, and poor mental health.[ii] 

28% of 5-year olds have tooth decay

The no:1 cause of hospital admissions for five year olds is dental health problems.[iii]  There are marked inequalities in rates between the north of England and the south, and between families in different income groups.

What is the cost to the NHS and to the economy?

Obese people accrue healthcare costs approximately 30% higher than their peers of a healthy weight.[i]

Health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the NHS more than £5 billion every year.[ii]

Poor dental hygiene costs the NHS a further £3.4 billion a year, of which £30 million alone is spent on hospital-based extractions of children’s teeth.[iii] 

The total societal cost of obesity in the UK in 2012, including lost productivity, was £47 billion - a figure second only to smoking.[iv]

In the US, healthcare costs of childhood obesity are $14.1 billion, without even factoring in the predicted costs when many of those obese children become obese adults. 


Clearly, the benefits of prevention outweigh the health and economic costs


[i] Public Health England, July 2015.
New government recommendations are to minimise consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and halve free sugars in the diet to no more than 5% of daily energy intake. Free sugars – includes sugars that are added to food, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates, not sugars in milk products and whole fruit & vegetables.
[ii] Han 2010
[iii] Health and Social Care Information Centre – research published in Sunday Times 13 July 2014
[i] Withrow D, Alter DA. The economic burden of obesity worldwide: a systematic review of the direct costs of obesity. Obes Rev 2011; 12: 131-141.
[ii] Scarborough P, Bhatnagar P, Wickramasinghe KK, Allender S, Foster C, Rayner MT. The economic burden of ill health due to diet, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol and obesity in the UK: an update to 2006-07 NHS costs. Journal of Public Health. 2011;33(4):L527-55.
[iii] NHS England. Improving dental care and oral health. A call to action. 2014.
[iv] Dobbs R, Sawers C, Thompson F, Manyika J, Woetzel J, Child P, et al. Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis. McKinsey Global Institute, 2014.


Sugary Drinks Duty: Support the campaign for a sugary drinks duty, to pay for programmes to improve childrens health and protect the environment they grow up in.

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