France intends to tax highly calorific products

Obesity is a growing concern in France, where the overweight rate increases by 4% every year. Today, more than 30% of the French population is overweight, and 15% of them are obese. The economic impact of obesity (on healthcare system, productivity loss, etc.) is estimated at 20,4 billion euros per year. To tackle this issue, the French Ministry of Finances published on September 2nd a note about its intention to replace all existing French taxes on oil, sodas and energizing drinks by a common tax based on the level of calories contained in the food as well as their nutritional quality. In Mexico, where a similar tax was implemented, it had positive effects on people’s purchasing habits. For instance, the sales of sodas dropped by 12% the following year.

Professor Serge Hercberg, President of the PNNS, the French national plan for health and nutrition, is in favour of the establishment of such a tax. Besides, the World Health Organisation encourages this kind of measure to induce change in people’s consumption habits. Prof. Hercberg insisted on the fact that the price is a determinant factor in the nutritional behaviour of consumers. It is known to be the first criterion of choice for food, even before the habit of buying the product and the taste.  He hopes that this tax would also have an upstream effect on the food industry, giving them an incentive to reduce the quantity of sugar, fat, salt and calories in their products.

The detractors of a tax on highly calorific products argue that it will primarily affect the lower income households. That is why Prof. Hercberg underlines the necessity to implement measures fostering the consumption of healthy food, such as a VAT reduction or dedicated vouchers to buy fruits and vegetables for underprivileged people.

NB: The FOOD programme’s communication tools in France received the PNNS logo, supporting its dissemination.

Sources:

http://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/news/paris-to-tackle-obesity-with-junk-food-tax/?nl_ref=19999989

http://www.la-croix.com/Debats/Forum-et-debats/TRIBUNE-La-taxe-sur-la-malbouffe-un-veritable-interet-en-matiere-de-sante-publique-2016-09-04-1200786524

 

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