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King Sugar's walls tumble as UK gets tough on soft drinks

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King Sugar's walls tumble as UK gets tough on soft drinks

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Not so free and easy with the fizzy stuff from Friday in the UK as the sweetest of sugary drinks get hit by a whopping 24 pence per litre tax, while lower-sugar drinks will cost 18 pence more.

The UK joins an exclusive club of nations on target to number just 32 by the end of the year that have decided to impose sugar taxes on sugary drinks for health reasons.

The tax was a headline feature of former finance minister George Osborne's final budget in May 2016. It is also forecast to raise more than 600 million euros for the government.

Many UK drinks manufacturers have already changed to artificial sweeteners ahead of the tax, which reflects a new medical focus on the over-consumption of sugar as the prime suspect for a whole range of diseases, but especially obesity. A new report has also suggested an alarming rise in infantile tooth decay, with UK hospitals pulling a child's tooth roughly every 10 minutes in children as young as one year old.

Some critics of drinks taxes say the use of sugar throughout the food industry, mainly in fast or convenience foods remains little understood, and is just as serious.