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Fat taxes?

12th July 2007

A team of researchers has claimed that more than 3,000 fatal heart attacks and strokes could be prevented each year in the UK if VAT was charged on a wide range of foods.

crisps

The researchers from the Department of Public Health at Oxford University are says a 17.5% rise on fatty, sugary or salty food would cut heart and stroke deaths by 1.7%.

The idea of a “fat tax? was dismissed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004 but researchers, writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, believe the time is now right for such a tax.

The Oxford group are among the first to try to work out how targeted taxes might have an effect on levels of illness. They used economic data to work out how demand would fall as the price of unhealthy foods – such a dairy products containing high levels of saturated fats and puddings - increased and which foods people might turn to instead. The researchers then used the results to predict the benefit on the health of the population.

Dr Mike Rayner, who worked on the study, said: “This is still at a fairly early stage, but the time is right for more debate on the issue of ‘fat taxes.’

“The other thing which would have to be done is to look at the possibility of subsidies for healthier foods, rather than simply looking at increases in tax."

However, the British Heart Foundation, said that it did not yet support “fat taxes.?

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