Taxing Junk Food to Improve Health Standards

Taxing Junk Food to Improve Health StandardsTaxing Junk Food to Improve Health Standards

Junk food production cannot be stopped. However, its consumption can be checked and controlled by imposing extra taxes on such food products,said Health Minister Seyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi.

 Junk food and unhealthy edibles have widespread marketing, he said, and “as the products have manufacturing permit, we are not able to stop their production.”

Recently 70 countries were successful in reducing junk food consumption by imposing taxes. There is strong evidence to support the potential health benefits of taxing selected foods and beverages, Alef News Agency quoted the minister as saying.

In 2011 Denmark introduced a “fat tax,” Hungary a “junk food tax,” and France a tax on sweetened drinks. Peru announced plans to tax junk food, and other countries, notably Ireland also considered such taxes. “Fat taxes” meant having to increase the price of unhealthy food and drinks by as much as 20% in order to cut consumption but enough to reduce obesity and other diet-related diseases.

It has been shown that taxation policies on junk food have reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and dental caries in the countries which increased taxes on unhealthy food.


He also emphasized the necessity of tobacco tax increase and said this measure can reduce tobacco use. “Taxation policies have proved successful to effectively check adult and teenage smoking,” he said. The taxes can be used for implementation of health plans.

“If we are not able to stop production of unhealthy products, we can atleast reduce their consumption by imposing taxes,” he added.

Such levies should be accompanied by subsidies on healthy foods like fruit and vegetables “to help encourage a significant shift in dietary habits,” according to research published in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers have found that 10 percent increase in the price of soda was associated with a 7.12% decrease in calories consumed from soda, while the same increase in the price of pizza led to an 11.5% drop.

 Pricing Strategies

Researchers estimate that the biggest response in consumption related to a change in the price of foods or drinks is among those belonging to a low income socioeconomic group. The change is less significant among those in higher income groups.

Diets high in sugar and saturated fats contribute to the development of chronic ailments, including cardiovascular diseases. Junk food contains high levels of calories from sugar or fat with little protein, vitamins or minerals. The use of the term implies that a particular food has little “nutritional value” because it contains too much fat, sugar, salt, and calories.