A WITHINGTON mum who runs healthy eating clubs in a number of county schools has said a new sugar tax is a step in the right direction but could have been more 'hard-hitting'.

Louisa Foti, who also writes healthier eating family recipe site eatyourveg.co.uk, said she would have favoured the targeting of all sugary products - namely high sugar biscuits, cakes, breakfast cereals, yoghurts, sweets and chocolate bars.

That, in turn, would incentivise manufacturers to reformulate their recipes and reduce sugar amounts in the same way they have with salt over the last few years.

In his Budget last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced that companies which produce or import soft drinks with significant added sugar will have to pay taxes on drinks containing 5g of sugar per 100ml or a higher rate on those containing over 8g per 100ml. Money raised will be used to combat childhood obesity, with part of the revenue going towards doubling funding for primary school sport.

Ms Foti said: "The sugar tax is a welcome start and I hope it will be extended in the eagerly awaited Childhood Obesity Strategy.

"Possibly even more controversially I would love to see a blanket ban on sweets and sugary drinks in schools.

"It horrifies me to see how often sweets get handed out as ‘treats’ and ‘rewards’ sending out confusing signals to our children. Even my five-year-old son recently commented 'if sweets are really bad for you mummy, why do we get them at school?'. "Childhood obesity is a very grave issue for the country and needs tackling sharply and immediately. Our NHS is already under massive strain and could well do without another generation of obesity driven heart disease, cancers and type II diabetes to deal with."

Sugar consumption is a particularly relevant issue to Herefordshire, she said, adding that the county has one of the worst rates of childhood tooth decay in the country.

"At all my after-school cook clubs I only offer water as a drink and healthier no sugar or natural sugar snacks like dried fruits, fresh fruit or veggies, savoury dips, oatcakes, rice cakes, wholemeal pitta bread, nuts or seeds," she said.

"The primary focus of my Sutton Academy ‘Healthy Snacks Club’ is on sugar, its dangers and the amounts contained in popular snack foods and drinks.

"Each week we build sugar cube towers comparing our healthy homemade alternatives to shop bought high sugar products. Children are always shocked at how much sugar common foods contain, especially when measured against the maximum daily intake of six cubes/teaspoons, as recommended by the World Health Organisation."