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New Unhealthy Food Taxes Could Be on the Way
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New Unhealthy Food Taxes Could Be on the Way

The government levied a tax on sugary drinks back in April 2018. Based on the success of that tax, England's chief medical officer thinks it might be a good idea to raise taxes on other unhealthy foods as a way of incentivising people to make better choices. In short, more unhealthy food taxes could be on the way. How those taxes would affect our sport nutrition solutions is unclear.

Prof Dame Sally Davies has been asked by health Secretary Matt Hancock to produce a report explaining key strategies the government could implement to encourage healthier eating choices. Davies has until September 2019 to produce that report. She told the BBC that she has every intention of being as bold as she can be with her recommendations.

Making Unhealthy Food More Expensive

Though Davies hasn't offered any details about what she plans to include in the report, comments she has already made suggest she finds the idea of making unhealthy food more expensive rather attractive. In her estimation, England's transition away from high-calorie, sugar-laden foods isn't happening fast enough. Changing the game by increasing taxes could speed things up.

As we understand it, the goal of introducing new unhealthy food taxes is two-pronged. First, making unhealthy food more expensive would cause people to think twice before spending the money. If processed food cost significantly more than fresh, the thinking is that fresh would win out more often than not.

Second, Davies implied in her comments to the BBC that the money raised through unhealthy food taxes could be used to subsidise healthier alternatives. Through such subsidies Davies thinks it would be possible to prevent a typical basket of healthier food from costing more.

Asking for Industry Input

The BBC says that Davies will be asking for input from experts on public health, science, and nutrition. She will also be asking for input from the food and drink industry. What she will do with that input is anyone's guess.

Should there be new unhealthy food taxes forthcoming, they would most likely effect unhealthy vending machine products like chocolates, crisps, and biscuits. They may not affect sport nutrition products that don't contain high volumes of sugar or calories. But again, that is speculation.

It has been our experience that sport nutrition solutions are almost always more healthy than traditional vending machine products. But we also know that is not always the case. There are some products marketed within the sports nutrition arena that really aren't as healthy as they are made out to be. Perhaps those products will be addressed in Davies' report.

At any rate, Davies' comments seem to point to the inevitability of new unhealthy food taxes. It might be that the only remaining question is what specific foods to tax. And once those foods are chosen, the level of taxation must be set high enough to achieve the dual goals of an incentivisation and subsidisation. Rest assured we will be paying attention.



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