Study: Higher "junk food" taxes key to curing obesity epidemic

A woman shops for soda in a grocery store.
A woman shops for soda in a grocery store.
Source: Wiki Commons
Source: Wiki Commons

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Health experts say taxes on unhealthy foods need to be higher.

Researchers at the University of Oxford predict a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks in the U.S. would reduce obesity rates up to 3.5 percent. The food industry argues the taxes would be unfair, ineffective and lead to job losses.

In a story posted on The Guardian, experts cited in research published in the British Medical Journal which says efforts should be made to give people incentives to eat "healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables."

According to the article, "Denmark has brought in a 'fat tax,' Hungary a 'junk food tax' and France a tax on all sweetened drinks. Peru intends to add levies to junk food and Ireland may also introduce such taxes. David Cameron last October said the UK should considering following suit."

The article goes on to say, "While it is unclear how such taxes could be brought in and enforced, they could help ensure that poor diet plays less of a role in future in a range of illnesses such as heart disease, type two diabetes and tooth decay, as well as obesity."

Scientists cite "evidence suggests that bigger health gains result from increasing the price of a broad range of foods rather than a narrow one, and sugary drinks offer the best proof that such a move can be effective."

"When the whole of the food industry is focused on continuing to give hard-pressed families great tasting food at an affordable price, seems fanciful if not irresponsible," said Terry Jones, director of communications for the Food and Drink Federation.

He is a spokesman for the food industry, representing food producers and retailers. 

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