The price of sugary and salty foods could be hiked under recommendations outlined in a UK Government-commissioned review, the Daily Mail reports.
The so-called “snack tax” would see the cost of Frosties go up by 87p, Mars bars would be 9p more expensive and, across the country, families could be paying an extra £3.4 billion a year for their groceries.
The National Food Strategy recommends that the money raised by the tax should fund fruit and vegetables and cookery classes that would be prescribed by GPs on the NHS to tackle the country’s obesity crisis.
The recommendations have been cooked up by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s food tsar, Henry Dimbleby, who founded the health-conscious fast food restaurant chain Leon and believes that the proposed tax will encourage firms to make their products healthier.
Mr Dimbleby’s review estimates that unhealthy food choices cost the economy £74 billion, put increased pressure on the NHS and have a role in 64,000 deaths annually.
His plans recommend taxing £6 per kilogram on salt sold wholesale for use in processed foods, or in restaurants and catering businesses, and £3 per kilogram on sugar.
The review says: “The CEOs of major food companies have told us privately that they cannot make these changes without Government intervention. They need a level playing field if they are to start making their products healthier, otherwise the competition will simply move in and undercut them.”
The recommendations have reportedly received a warm reception from medical professionals and health charities who say that, if enacted, they could relieve the burden on the NHS and weaken demand for costly drugs and treatments.
But business leaders from the food and drink industry say they will have to pass on the additional costs to supermarket and restaurant customers.
Some £2.8 billion a year would be generated by the sugar tax and the salt tax would raise up to £630 million a year, according to the review’s calculations, and this could be used to fund better diets for people in poverty-stricken areas and to teach schoolchildren about the virtues of healthy eating.
Pilot schemes would be launched where GPs would prescribe fruit, vegetables and cookery classes and patients would be offered supermarket tours where they could learn about healthy shopping habits.
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