Over half of Europeans were overweight in 2014. Obesity rates are increasing rapidly in almost all EU Member States (except hyper-chic France, where they’re actually falling). One in every third child in the EU aged 6 to 9 is currently overweight or obese.
The European population is storing up serious health problems, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and coronary heart diseases. This will, obviously, put an increased strain on health systems.
Encouraging more active lifestyles involving sport, walking, cycling, etc., is obviously part of the solution. However, healthier diets are also needed. We had a comment from Bart, who wondered: “If cigarettes are heavily taxed because the smokers are a heavy burden to the public health system then why not apply the same rules to unhealthy food?”
The World Health Organisation argues that “tobacco tax increases are the single most effective policy to reduce tobacco use”. If it works for tobacco, wouldn’t it also work for fatty and unhealthy foods?
To get a response, we took Bart’s comment to some of the speakers at State of Europe 2017, the high level roundtable event in Brussels organised by our partner think tank, Friends of Europe. We put his question to Xavier Prats Monné, Director General of Health & Food Safety at the European Commission. Here’s what he had to say:
Should unhealthy food be taxed more? Is Europe paying for cheap food prices with higher health insurance bills? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!