Sugar-fat tax against overweight
Sugar-fat tax is designed to curb obesity
People with obesity and obesity often face serious health consequences. A British study shows that the more people are fast-food in their area, the more people are fed. As appeals to reason have failed, experts are now calling for a sugar-fat tax to stop the problem.
Nearby fast-food shops make you fat
In some areas and streets, fast food shops line up like pearls on a chain: doner kebab and french fries, between sandwich shops and bakeries, where you can get sugary biscuits. In the long run resist only very few and that has consequences. As a British survey of just under 5,500 citizens revealed, people are the thicker the more fast food shops are in their home or work environment. The German Diabetes Association (DDG) now thinks that there is only one thing left: a sugar-fat tax.
Health consequences of obesity
According to the study, in the journal „British Medical Journal“ published, there is a clear link between the fast food offer and your own body weight: „Residents with the most snack opportunities were almost twice as likely to be overweight as residents from areas with the least fast food stores“, said the president of the DDG, Erhard Siegel. The data of the German National Consumption Study published in 2008 show that more than 58 percent of the 20,000 study participants had obesity or even obesity. According to Siegel, being overweight leads to a whole range of serious health problems such as diabetes, an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, joint problems and a higher risk of cancer.
Appeals to reason have failed
„All this is of course an insane burden on the health system“, explained Siegel, who works as an internist and nutritionist at St. Josef Hospital in Heidelberg. The doctor wants to start a process, „how to get a handle on the subject of being overweight.“ He says that appeals to people's reason have long since failed and socially disadvantaged people are not reached anyway. He cited the tobacco tax as a successful example of a preventive measure: „By making cigarettes very expensive and providing very clear health warnings to cigarettes, it has been found that cigarette consumption has dropped by 50 percent, say, among the 12- to 17-year-olds.“
Sugar-fat tax should bring success
The DDG hopes for a sugar-fat-tax-like success. Among other things, it deals with processed foods, where it is not immediately apparent to consumers how many calories they contained. „A piece of 200 calorie pie should be cheaper than a 500 calorie chocolate brownie.“ The managing director of the DDG, Dietrich Garlichs, stressed that this could also be a suggestion for the food industry to change their recipes. For example, you can produce soft drinks with much less sugar without changing the taste. „Moreover, we are not in favor of unilateral tax collection, but healthy food should be cheaper at the same time“, said the political scientist.
Ministry rejects penalty taxes
Whether the introduction of such a sugar-fat tax would have any chances, would first have to show. On the part of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture is waved: „A political control of consumption and paternalism by punitive taxes refuses the ministry“, a spokesman said. In most cases, punitive taxes for supposedly unhealthy foods would not change people's dietary habits. „For example, in November 2012, the Danish government abolished the tax on fats introduced a year earlier on the grounds that the tax had not changed its diet.“
Many countries are active in this area
However, more and more nations are active in this field. Mexico, for example, has introduced a tax on foods containing more than 275 calories per 100 grams. And in France there is one since 2012 „Cola control“ for sugar fortified drinks. In Latvia, unhealthy foods and drinks are banned from schools and kindergartens, and there are also taxes on fatteners in Finland and Hungary. Garlichs says that such measures in this country are only a matter of time: „I firmly believe that they will be in the next coalition agreement at the federal level.“ In the past year, the DDG had also advised to make the so-called sugar-fat tax at the same time a tax relief for healthy food in order to avoid the impression that only one more tax is levied to fill the state costs. (Sb)
Picture: Gerd Altmann / Dieter Petereit