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Junk food to be taxed to cut fat

Soon after announcing that it would be squeezing out ketchup from school cafeterias, France has plans to levy a tax on fizzy drinks to stamp out a growing obesity epidemic. The country would impose a two-cent tax on cans of carbonated, sugary drinks — double the original projection.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 23, 2011 18:50 IST
RELAXNEWS

Some countries will soon levy tax on fast foods to control obesity

Soon after announcing that it would be squeezing out ketchup from school cafeterias, France has plans to levy a tax on fizzy drinks to stamp out a growing obesity epidemic. The country would impose a two-cent tax on cans of carbonated, sugary drinks — double the original projection. French politicians are working to broaden the tax to artificially sweetened sodas such as Diet Coke and Pepsi Max.

The new policy will restrict salt and sauces like mayonnaise, salad dressings and ketchup, removing any self-serve condiment stations in school cafeterias. Instead, sauces will be doled out in portion-controlled servings on lunch trays. The move is part of a larger plan to preserve French gastronomy and to fight a growing obesity epidemic that is fast derailing the country’s reputation of being home to a svelte, healthy population that subsists on butter and red wine.

Denmark also recently levied a new “fat tax” on junk food that will add about €1 in cost per pound (half a kilogram) of saturated fat to any food that contains more than 2.3% saturated fat. The Danes join Hungary, which slapped a fat tax on junk food last month.

Closer home, experts believe that such moves can go a long way in generating awareness about obesity among the younger generation. “It’s heartening that the governments of these countries are adopting such measures. In India, kids as young as 4-5 years of age are obese and there has been about 40% increase in the obesity statistics in the last few years,” says fitness expert Prachi Agarwal. Sadhna Sharma, a city-based teacher says, “Even salads come loaded with unhealthy flavourings. Levying taxes on junk food may not change things overnight, but it might make young people think twice before eating junk, as they have limited pocket money.”

However, Shilpa Thakur, chief dietician, Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, says, “More than levying taxes on junk, there is a need to create awareness about the disastrous consequences of obesity.” And to make such campaigns effective, Thakur says its advisable to de-junk school and college canteens, by banning junk foods.

Delhi Mayor Rajni Abbi too intends generating awareness about the dangers of junk food among Delhiites, especially kids. The Mayor will soon introduce guidelines, asking city restaurants to cut down the ratio of oil, carbohydrates and salt in their preparations. (with inputs from Himangi Tripathi)