Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Chewing the FAT

The Danish decision to impose a tax on high fat foods has led to much debate in the UK as to whether or not we should follow in their footsteps. The fact that we as a nation are facing an obesity epidemic is probably not surprising to the majority of people, with shocking statistics regularly appearing in the news.
The latest Health Survey for England (HSE) data shows that 61.3% of adults (aged 16 or over), and 28.3% of children (aged 2-10) in England were overweight or obese, of these, 23.0% of adults and 14.4% of children were obese.
People on the street felt that the nation’s health was an issue that needed to be addressed.  In particular, concern was felt for increasing childhood obesity.
The general consensus was that it is more expensive to eat healthily rather than unhealthily, particularly for those who are time poor – and this has contributed to the growing problem. Special offers in stores are seen to encourage the purchasing of unhealthy food, as it is perceived that it is always the unhealthy options that are on offer.
Consumers said that they tend to purchase what they consider to be high fat or unhealthy food because they enjoy it and like the taste and it is easily accessible for them wherever they are at affordable prices. Despite feeling that they are consuming too much of the foods they view as being unhealthy, they continue to do so – because they can
So what do we in the UK think of the government taking action and bringing in a tax on the high fat foods that we currently buy? “I think that it is a good idea to impose a tax on high fat foods in the UK”, 57% of people surveyed agreed strongly or slightly.
Interestingly results showed a bit of a North/South divide with significantly more people in the South East compared to Scotland and the North agreeing strongly to the tax of high fat foods being a good idea.
So what are the implications of a fat tax in the UK? It is the low income families that are thought to be most affected; a) because they have less disposable income and b) because it is the low income families who are buying more of the high fat food.
Consumers told us that they thought that they would purchase less high fat foods if their prices increased but that it would have to go up by a considerable amount before they would stop and think about their purchase.
In Denmark the taxation will be on foods that contain more than 2.3% of saturated fats which means that an average burger will cost around 9p more and the price of a small pack of butter will rise by about 25p.
Would this increase be enough to make you think twice about how liberally you butter your toast in the morning?

No comments:

Post a Comment