French obesity report calls for junk food tax
As most junk foods are convenient and cheap, there isn't a whole lot to stop people from consuming them on a regular basis; other than a guilty conscience that is. And for teens and children the guilty conscience doesn't even factor into the equation. It doesn't matter that the high sugar, fat and calorie content of fast food is doing serious harm to their bodies- it's affordable and it tastes great.
The French tax and social affairs inspectorates plan on changing all of this by introducing a new junk food tax. They propose that all junk foods, sodas, and alcohol be subject to a 19.6 percent tax, up from the existing 5.5 percent one. With a new tax in place they are hoping people will think twice before indulging in these greasy foods. The tax seems like a good idea to me but the timing is a bit off. With the recent increase in global food prices, which has already put pressure on lower-income French households, they will have some troubles convincing the government of the high tax.
A French official report has called for a new tax on sweet and fatty foods, sodas and alcohol in a bid to fight obesity, which already afflicts one in five French adults.
Drawn up jointly by the French tax and social affairs inspectorates, the report was handed to Budget Minister Eric Woerth and his counterpart for health Roselyne Bachelot late last month, ministry officials said Tuesday.
According to Les Echos newspaper, it calls for the VAT sales tax rate to be increased from 5.5 to 19.6 percent on all food stuffs considered "too rich, too sweet, too salty and which are not strictly necessary."
Pizzas, hamburgers and sandwiches would all be hit by the new rules, the paper said.
Excess weight and obesity are blamed for fuelling cardiovascular disease as well as certain types of cancer. The authors also advocate raising the tax on alcohol because of its link to certain types of cancer.
According to the paper, the report's authors acknowledge that "the least privileged populations, who eat least well, could be most heavily penalized" by a junk food tax.
Two thirds of French men and half of all women aged 35 to 74 are thought to be overweight, according to a study released in June, while one fifth of all adults obese.
France has taken steps to combat obesity in children, with vending machines banned in schools since 2005, and Bachelot has called for an end to unhealthy food ads during children's television programming.