Norwegian obesity tax must be encouraged says expert

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Obesity

A Norwegian government proposal to tax products high in sugar
and fats should be encouraged in the battle against obesity, says a
nutritional expert.

Under new recommendations put before the country's parliament, a trade tax known as "moms"​ could be as much as doubled on confectionary to further subsidise cheaper fruit and vegetables. Haakon Meyer of the University of Oslo's nutrition department and chair in the National Council for Nutrition of Norway welcomed any action that discourages consumption of fatty and sugary foods. The comments come as European confectionery and snack manufacturers face increased restrictions and costs due to health concerns relating to the sale and consumption of their products. Norway's moves are designed to curb sales of high sugar goods like confectionery in a bid to boost healthier eating habits in the country. Meyer believes that the proposals would one of several steps in reducing the growing obesity epidemic in the country. ​"In Norway, like much ofWestern Europe, obesity has become a major problem, with rates having tripled over the last 40 years,"​ he said in an interview with "Though the country has seen levels of cardiovascular disease decrease, there is growing concerns over the rise in Type-2 diabetes - an illness commonly linked to obesity."​ Though the taxation proposals face an uncertain future as they contend with the political process, Meyer believes that their elevation to serious political debate is reflective of increasing focus on promoting healthier food consumption in the nation's diets. "Government is already closing in on introducing free fruit for kindergartens and schools, an important step in securing that healthy diets are available to all,"​ he said. Meyer also believes that nutritional debate will also push Norway to follow the lead of its European neighbours in moving towards advertising bans on chocolate and confectionery products aimed at children. However, these measures are likely to meet opposition within the confectionery and snack industry, who believe that solely targeting sugary and fatty foods is not a sufficient means to fight obesity. Trade organisations like the British Soft Drink association stress that children should be encouraged -- and not forced -- into consuming a balanced diet. The association claims that this aim should also be met with effective exercise and social initiatives.

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