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Can higher taxes on unhealthy foods stop obesity?

Can higher taxes on unhealthy foods stop obesity?



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Tax hike on unhealthy foods is said to stop obesity

About every fourth German citizen is very overweight. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. A new study now shows that an increase in taxes on unhealthy foods and a tax exemption for fruits and vegetables could stop the overweight wave.

More and more obese people in Germany

According to health experts, around 25 percent of the German population is considered to be extremely overweight, and the trend is rising. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), there was a particularly large increase in the number of obese people among young people between the ages of 18 and 29. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. There are several factors that can cause obesity. An unhealthy diet is very important here. An increase in taxes on unhealthy people and tax exemptions for healthy foods could stop the wave of overweight. This is shown by a new study by the University of Hamburg.

Tax exemption for fruit and vegetables

The consumer organization foodwatch has only recently campaigned for the abolition of VAT on fruit and vegetables.

"It is high time to make healthy eating easier with tax policy measures," said foodwatch managing director Martin Rücker in a message.

“Value added tax on fruit and vegetables must be abolished. This helps people and health policy goals alike, ”says the expert.

Now a new study by a scientist at the University of Hamburg shows that tax exemption on fruit and vegetables could stop the wave of overweight.

The study was commissioned by the German Obesity Society (DAG) and the German Diabetes Society (DDG), among others.

The reduced tax rate applies to unhealthy food

So far, the reduced tax rate of seven percent has applied to most foods, including unhealthy products with a lot of fat and sugar. The study by the Hamburg economist Dr. Tobias Effertz examines alternative scenarios with different graduations.

The most promising and politically realistic is the "Traffic Light Plus" system with the following tax rates:

Green 0%: fruits and vegetables
Yellow 7%: normal foods such as pasta, milk or meat
Red 19%: Products with a lot of added sugar, salt or fat such as ready meals, chips or sweets

In addition, the tax rate for particularly harmful soft drinks such as cola or fanta could be increased from 19 to 29 percent today.

This plus is necessary because soft drinks are often the cause of overweight or obesity - even more than sweets. This also applies to drinks with sugar substitutes.

Prices make it easier to promote health

"When it comes to nutrition, the framework conditions play a crucial role," health expert Ulf Fink said in a message.

“Of course, everyone should decide for themselves what to buy. Favorable prices make it easier for consumers to promote their health. "

Many countries have already recognized this and increased taxes on unhealthy products. With success: In Berkeley, California, sales of soft drinks decreased by 21 percent. In addition, manufacturers of finished products frequently changed their recipes and reduced fat and sugar after tax adjustments.

"So citizens get better products at the same price," explained nutritionist Hans Hauner from the Technical University of Munich. Especially low-income groups benefit from this.

"Tax adjustments are also an effective way for Germany to protect citizens from obesity," said Hauner.

German politics appeals to individual responsibility

25 percent of the German population are currently considered obese. Despite all efforts, it has not been possible to stop the increase in obesity, let alone reverse it.

"This is not least due to the previous focus of German politics, which mainly appeals to individual responsibility and, for example, funds courses on general education about healthy eating," criticized nutrition expert Hauner.

Scientifically, this individual approach is considered to have failed because it rarely leads to permanent weight loss.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends instead that the framework conditions for healthy behavior be improved.

These measures of ratio prevention include tax adjustments, a ban on food advertising aimed at children, and binding standards for catering in daycare centers and schools.

In Germany, these demands are also represented by the German Alliance for Noncommunicable Diseases (DANK), an association of twenty large medical specialist organizations. (ad)

Author and source information


Video: Benefits Of Putting A Tax On Fatty, Processed Food (August 2022).