Increasing the price of unhealthy food and drinks through a tax of at least 20 per cent could improve people’s health and have an impact on diet-related diseases, a new study shows.
The study by BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) suggested fat and sugar taxes needed to be at least 20 per cent to have a significant effect on obesity and cardiovascular disease.
A tax on sugary drinks would be most successful, the study showed.
It also revealed that taxes on unhealthy foods should be combined with subsidies on healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables.
”Price is an important determinant of food choices and diet,” the study said.
”As the price of an item rises the consumption of that item will typically fall.
”Increasing the price of unhealthy foods, by taxation, should reduce consumption of the taxed foods.”
Denmark has introduced a fat tax and Hungary a junk food tax. France has introduced a tax on sweetened drinks and Peru is planning to implement a junk food tax. Some public health experts in Australia have called for a tax on junk food.
Adjunct professor at the Australian National University’s Medical School, Dick Telford, said there needed to be subsidies in Australia which encouraged people to buy healthy foods.
He didn’t think unhealthy food and drink taxes were the answer to improving people’s health.
”We should be encouraging, not penalising,” Professor Telford said.