'Fat tax' on unhealthy food must raise prices by 20% to have effect, says study
Researchers say levy on junk food should be accompanied by subsidies for fruit and vegetables
"Fat taxes" would have to increase the price of unhealthy food and drinks by as much as 20% in order to cut consumption by enough to reduce obesity and other diet-related diseases, experts have said. Such levies should be accompanied by subsidies on healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables to help encourage a significant shift in dietary habits, according to research published in the British Medical Journal.
The Guardian presents this as a 'when did you stop beating your wife?' issue, as if we were all mulling the possibility of a 10% fat tax but the medics are pushing us for 20% or more (the BMJ article actually says "at least 20%", not "up to 20%"—a non-trivial difference).
The idea of using the money to subsidise 'healthy' foods is also a clever touch, effectively bribing the Islington/Whole Foods set into supporting the policy. The question that comes to mind is why, if cutting obesity will save the taxpayer so much money, do we need a fat tax at all? Why not simply subsidise 'healthy' foods, watch the pounds fall off, and reap the savings? The answer, I suggest, is that they know as well as we do that the obesity time-bomb is a fiction but the pensions time-bomb is not.
Regular, and even occasional, readers will guess that I am not in favour of fat taxes and I explain why in this new post at the Adam Smith Institute.
Also, check out this (much better, and not just because I'm mentioned) Guardian article from today's edition.