High fat, sugar, and salt taxes are being called for by a UK food giant


Danone UK & Ireland, one of the country’s biggest food firms, has called for higher taxes on products high in fat, sugar, or salt. The company says government intervention is required to ensure consumers are offered healthier products.

In a letter to the government, Danone UK & Ireland president James Mayer said: “The UK food industry’s efforts to improve the health profile of its products have not moved fast enough. We need to see a step change in how we tackle obesity.”

Mayer said a tax on unhealthy foods would be a “powerful lever” to change how people eat. He said the tax could fund public health initiatives, such as school meals and sports programs.

The Food and Drink Federation, representing the UK food industry, has said it opposes a tax on unhealthy foods. The federation says such a tax would be unfair to businesses and consumers.

The government has said it is considering a range of measures to tackle obesity, including a sugar tax. However, it has not announced plans to introduce a tax on unhealthy foods.

The call for a tax on unhealthy foods comes amid growing concern about the obesity crisis in the UK. One in four adults in the UK is obese, and the number of children, the number of people who are overweight or obese, has doubled in the last two decades.

The risk of developing chronic illnesses, like Some conditions that people can be at risk for, Some of the health conditions that various factors can cause include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and specific illnesses forms of cancer, is significantly higher for those who are obese. The NHS spends approximately £6.1 billion annually to address the consequences of obesity.

A tax on unhealthy foods could help reduce these products’ consumption and improve public health. However, it is essential to note that such a tax would be regressive and disproportionately affect low-income households. As such, it is necessary to design fair and effective taxation.

Here are some of the arguments for and against a tax on unhealthy foods:

Arguments for a tax on unhealthy foods:

  • A tax on unhealthy foods would be a disincentive to consume these products, which could help to reduce obesity rates.
  •  The tax revenue could fund public health initiatives, such as school meals and sports programs.
  •  A tax on unhealthy foods would be a way to level the playing field between healthy and unhealthy foods.

James Mayer, president of Danone UK & Ireland, said: “The UK food industry’s efforts to improve the health profile of its products need to move faster.

We’ve reached a point where meaningful intervention from the government is a necessary course of action.”

It’s the first time a major food company has called for urgent government action in the face of rising rates of obesity. The Health Survey for England for 2021 reported 64% of adults were overweight or obese.

Arguments against a tax on unhealthy foods:

  • A tax on unhealthy foods would be regressive, meaning that it would disproportionately affect low-income households.
  •  A tax on unhealthy foods would be challenging to administer and enforce.
  •  A tax on unhealthy foods would be a form of government overreach.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to introduce a tax on unhealthy foods is a complex one. There are pros and cons to consider, and the government will need to weigh these carefully before deciding.

Campaigners have accused the wider food industry of not moving fast enough to reformulate foods and promote healthier options. Food giant Nestlé faced criticism last month over the launch of its KitKat breakfast cereal, containing nearly 25% sugar. The brand is elevated with a large logo of the famous confectionery bar.

Campaigners from Sustain, the Obesity Health Alliance and other organizations.

She complained that the product’s promotion, which described it as “nutritious”, was “deeply irresponsible”. It said the UK government had successive opportunities to take “the flood of unhealthy food” but had failed to take appropriate action.

In addition to a tax on unhealthy foods, there are other measures that the government could take to tackle the obesity crisis. These include:

  • Investing in school meals and sports programs.
  •  Making it easier for people to walk and cycle.
  •  Banning junk food advertising on television and online.
  •  Our goal is to simplify access to nutritious food options for individuals.

By taking a comprehensive approach to tackling obesity, the government can help improve the nation’s health and reduce the burden on the NHS.

A Food and Drink Federation spokesperson said: “Food and drink manufacturers are committed to improving the nutritional profile of food and drinks. An additional tax on food manufacturers will not help them to reformulate. It will only add to the financial burden they are already facing.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have taken firm action to tackle unhealthy foods, including by restricting the location of foods high in fat, sugar or salt, which will bring health benefits of over £57bn and save the NHS £4bn. “Our sugar reduction programme has delivered dramatic reductions in the amount of sugar in foods eaten by children – including a 14.9% decrease in the sugar content of breakfast cereals and a 13.5% reduction in the sugar content of yoghurts and fromage frais.

“We will continue to work closely with industry to make it easier for people to make healthier choices and support people already living with obesity to lose weight.”

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Marta Lopez

I am a content writer and I write articles on sports, news, business etc.

By Marta Lopez


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