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The government is looking to introduce a 'snack tax' on unhealthy foods to try and tackle a national obesity crisis.
The proposed measures would see sugar taxed at £3 per kilo, and salt taxed at £6 per kilo. The price hike would apply to sugar and salt sold wholesale to food manufactures and catering businesses, in what would be a world first move. This comes after a sugar tax was applied to fizzy drinks in 2018.
So, what does this mean for people at home?
Well, the increased tax would mean an increase in the price of products we buy. It's predicted that it could cost each person an extra £60 on their annual food bill, or £240 for a family of four. It's hoped that this will drive companies to produce healthier products as they seek to avoid the increased tax rates.
Frosties would cost an extra 87p, whilst Mars bars would go up by just 9p. Many will be relieved to hear that the price of a Greggs sausage roll would only cost 1p more. Products with high salt or sugar levels will be impacted, such as sweets, jam, crisps and many more.
The 'snack tax' would raise an estimated £3.4 billion a year, and it's being suggested that the money should be spent on fruit and veg prescriptions, or cookery classes to teach people how to make healthier meals.
It's part of a new National Food Strategy published today by the Prime Minister's food tsar, Henry Dimbleby.
The report states that "The CEOs of major food companies have told us privately that they cannot make these changes without Government intervention. They need a level playing field if they are to start making their products healthier, otherwise the competition will simply move in and undercut them."
Britain loves snacks. That's a simple truth shared by millions. After all, we have the third highest obesity rate in Europe, with an estimated 28% of the population being classed as obese.
Our high levels of obesity put the NHS under immense strain. Poor diet choices cause around 64,000 deaths each year, and cost the economy an estimated £74 billion annually. Healthier lifestyles would reduce these numbers, but a more extreme idea has also been suggested.
Whilst many health experts have voiced their support for the 'snack tax', others are divided over whether or not it's the best way to approach the issue:
@thismorning snack tax to tackle obesity? How can you when you still have a pack of 5 donuts for 50p but pots of fruit are £2 the struggling parents are going to opt for the cheaper option. #ThisMorning
- Scott (@ScottOlive92) July 15, 2021
If the UK want to start bringing in a sugar tax and make unhealthy foods more expensive, then tackle it from the opposite end and lower the price of healthy snacks. A bag of apples is £1.35 yet a pizza is 89p this isn't right if you want a healthy society! #loosewomen
- Lukeovision (@OfficialLukeW) July 15, 2021
The new 'snack tax' is the latest government overreach into our personal liberties. How can the levelling up agenda be taken seriously when the government plan to make it more expensive for parents to feed their kids?
- Sammy Wilson MP (@eastantrimmp) July 15, 2021
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with obesity, you can find advice here.