Julia Hartley-Brewer: Calorie tax would be 'self-flagellation'

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer questioned why it is “the government’s business to tell people how many calories they can consume” after calls for a tax on high-calorie food.

Health campaigners are proposing a 'calorie levy' modelled on the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which has reportedly taken 90 million kilos of sugar out of the nation's diet since it its introduction in April 2018.

Action on Sugar activist, Dr Kawsher Hashem, said taxing sugar was not enough to tackle obesity in the UK, with one health chief describing the country as the "fattest in Europe".

A levy on companies creating high-calorie, processed food would encourage them to make healther versions, according to campaign groups Action on Sugar and Action on Salt.

Uncovinced, Julia asked Dr Hashem: “Why is it the business of the government to tell manufacturers not to offer that choice to people in a free country?”.

Dr Hashem explained: “The idea behind it is to get the manufacturers to gradually reduce those levels.

“I think that companies have got away with far too long, kind of encouraging us, manipulating our behaviour through advertising, marketing and promotion.”

But Julia insisted: "So if sometimes you want to eat something that's quite high in sugar and fat because it tastes darn good and you think you should have to pay more for that - is this self flagellation?"

The government has said there are “no plans” to introduce a calorie levy.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "We are already reducing exposure to fatty and sugary foods, and are now consulting on further plans to offer clear labelling and more support for individuals to manage their weight."

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