Tax Needed to Fight Obesity

May 20, 2014 International Tax Cooperation

NEW YORK – Taxes could be used to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods rich in sugar, salt and saturated fats.

Unhealthy foods now have a more significant negative effect on global health than tobacco, and, as a result, regulatory steps, including taxation measures, should be taken now to minimize the spread of obesity, heart disease and other diet related ailments, according to new information in a speech delivered on May 19th by Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, at the commencement of a conference on the issue of promoting healthy diets around the world.

In his speech Olivier De Schutter endorsed the idea of applying significant taxes on foods deemed to be particularly detrimental to human health, especially products with high amounts of sugar, salt, and saturated fats.

He noted that a small selection of countries have already begun to slowly implement such measure, but, on a global scale, progress has been too slow and too ineffective.

Olivier De Schutter also suggested that governments around the world should cease providing subsidies and tax breaks to the agricultural sector, as such measures are often misguided, and unfairly make some unhealthy products too cheap.

Aside from direct economic intervention, Olivier De Schutter also called for governments to crack down on advertising of junk food, and to lend greater support local food production and accessibility to healthy products.

Olivier De Schutter noted that his suggestions were not new, and were previously made in 2012 in a report released by the UN.

Photo by: Jeff Gunn