Saturday, 20 July, 2019

Dishing out meat tax ‘will save billions in healthcare’

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Gustavo Carr | 08 November, 2018, 21:39

An effective tax in Sweden increased the price of processed meat by a whopping 185% and that of red meat by 27%.

In the USA, the tax might result in people eating three fewer portions of red, processed meat each week.

Lower consumption of red and processed meat would lead to 220,000 less deaths a year from chronic disease - such as coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. The new tax would almost double the cost of processed meat and raise the price of a steak by 14 percent.

Meat tax levels high enough to be effective varied from country to country.

In the United Kingdom, that would mean a price increase of about 13% on red meat and about 79% on processed meat.

The resulting higher prices would also cut meat consumption by two portions a week - now people in rich nations each eat one portion a day.

It's an interesting paper that's sure to start a debate. If the issue continues to gain column inches in newspapers, chances are that a long term decline in red meat eating could well occur, although there are few signs of that yet.

The higher prices on red and processed meat encourage dietary shifts to other, less harmful foods.

Where did the story come from?

One user told HuffPost UK on Twitter: "The laws of economics mean that any tax will cause some people to switch".

The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Global savings on health care would reach $41 billion, according to the report, which was published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE.

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The study was widely reported in the United Kingdom media.

Should a meat tax be applied at the recommended rate, the price would rise to £1.95.

The Sun referred to "the levy on family favourites" as evidence of the "nanny state", which it has opposed through its "Hands Off Our Grub" campaign against the tax on sugary drinks.

What kind of research was this?

Well, it could well be another cost to absorb on already rising food prices.

In fact, eating any ultra-processed food can increase the risk of cancer, obesity and diabetes, according to other research.

The scientists said, "Our findings make it clear that the consumption of red and processed meat has a cost, not just to people's health and to the planet, but also to the healthcare systems and the economy".

Australians would face a 109% tax on processed meats and 18% on unprocessed meats, while the rates in the United Kingdom would be 79% and 14% respectively.

PAFS are a statistical tool used to estimate the proportion of disease cases attributable to a specific cause, which in this case was eating processed or red meat. This has reduced sugar use in many branded products.

What were the basic results?

Lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, said high consumption of red meat was not just having an impact on personal health but was also increasing the burden on health services and the economy, which was losing its workforce due to ill health.

This research investigated the potential effect of a proposal based on a modelling exercise and is not a government policy.

In the United Kingdom, the "optimal" tax level increased the cost of red meat by 14% and processed meat by 79%. They also want to control what you eat. Fresh burgers and mince are not considered to be processed meats.