Fast food may soon become expensive across the state, with the Maharastra government mulling measures such as a fat tax to get its people to eat healthy.
Sources said the state believes fast food is a leading cause for obesity and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. It has constituted a 17-member task force to make suggestions for a policy that will help curb deaths from such diseases.
Experts said the state government may come up with measures such as high tax rates on fast food to make them expensive and barring fast food companies from advertising. The Kerala government this year proposed a 14.5% tax on fast food.
The task force has health experts, who will suggest to the government measures to control deaths from obesity and diabetes, a senior official from public health department told HT.
“The task force will analyse the causes for such non-communicable diseases and give us recommendations. The objective is to bring a policy that promotes good health,” the official said.
According to a government resolution (GR) issued by the public health department, one of the major responsibilities of the task force is to suggest ways in which curbs could be imposed on companies making fast food .
Dr Subhash Salunkhe, a former director general health services, who is on the task force, said there are no scientific studies done so far to prove junk or fast foods cause obesity. “The task force may suggest to the government to carry out such a study to find out the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in Maharashtra. Once this is done, the government can come out with an effective policy,” he said.
The government also needs to involve legal agencies as a part of the policy so that it is implemented better, experts said. For instance, just like tobacco products are harmful for health, the government can impose high rate of taxes on fast food making them expensive and this can be used as a deterrent, Dr Salunkhe said.