NANNY state plans to hike taxes on the nation’s favourite treats could increase the cost of the weekly food shop.
The country’s top doctor hopes to slash obesity rates by making the likes of pizza, crisps and chocolate more expensive.
2 The UK’s top doctor wishes to incentivise parents to buy healthier food by hiking taxes on high-calorie food such as crisps and pizzaCredit: Getty
Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, said the money could be used to subsidise fruit and vegetables.
Other ideas include a levy on added sugar in baby food and on high-calorie grub like cakes.
It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock asked Dame Sally to review what could be done to halve childhood obesity by 2030.
Experts on nutrition, science, and public health will contribute ideas. The review is set to report back by September.
Dame Sally said: “I’m going to be as bold as I can be. I want parents to be incentivised to buy healthy food.
“We need to make sure that fresh fruit and vegetables are cheap.
“Maybe we have to subsidise them by charging more, by taxing unhealthy food. Parents are then nudged to buy the healthy version because it’s cheaper.
“I want the basket of food parents buy not to cost any more.”
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Her comments come after a study linked highly-processed foods to poor health and early death. A tax on sugary drinks was introduced in April last year. Critics warned it would probably spread to other products.
Ministers are already considering restricting BOGOF deals and TV ads promoting junk food.
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When asked why another strategy on cutting childhood obesity was required, Dame Sally said she regretted the process “taking so long”.
She added: “I should have chivvied harder to get us there faster.
“I, as an independent adviser, do wish we could do things faster.”
Christopher Snowdon, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “A 20 per cent tax on the kind of food products Sally Davies has in mind would cost the average household £372 a year.
“This isn’t a lot of money to people like Dame Sally who earn over £200,000 a year, but it is a large sum to most of us.
“A new slew of sin taxes would clobber people on low incomes.
“The nanny state lobby likes to talk about health inequalities but their actions only serve to make the poor poorer.”
Dr Kate Allen, from the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “We welcome Professor Dame Sally Davies’ outlook on preventing childhood obesity by incentivising parents.
“Overweight and obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese adults, and as we know, being overweight or obese is a cause of many different diseases including at least 12 different types of cancer.
“We hope the government will continue with its efforts to make it easier for parents, and everyone else, to make healthier choices by making our daily environments healthier.
“Taxes on unhealthy food and subsidies on healthy food would be a great step and should go alongside other policies such as better urban planning that encourages more exercise and restrictions on junk food advertising.”
2 Professor Dame Sally Davies has been looking at what can be done to halve childhood obesity by 2030Credit: Francesco Guidicini – The Sunday Times