Taxing sugar vs fat, salt or junk
A New Zealand study published in The Lancet concluded that taxing sugar is better for public health than taxing fat, salt or junk food and better than subsidising fruit/vegetables.
The outcomes were remarkable, including reductions for men of 33% for diabetes, 18% for strokes and 16% for coronary heart disease.
To quote the authors: “All the interventions we modelled led to notable reductions in most chronic disease rates.” A sugar tax would “add a total of 581 health adjusted life years per 1,000 New Zealand consumers.”
But the key word here is ‘modelled’. 581 health adjusted life years per 1,000 is significant, but less than a 1% increase in life expectancy.
The study does at least advocate a ‘combination’ strategy, such as alongside a fruit and vegetable subsidy. But, in my view, the combination needs to stretch beyond taxation to information, education, social pressure, fitness and more.
Only tackling the whole diet and whole lifestyles will deal with the whole issue of obesity.
What we lack is:
- analysis to correct false impressions
- clear information to favour healthier choices
- energy and effort to use more natural produce
- incentives for healthy choices instead of incomplete disincentives for less healthy choices.