EuroHeart II National meeting in the UK

November 28th 2012

On 29 June 2012, the National Heart Forum (now the UK Health Forum) organised a national meeting in the UK to disseminate the outcome of the publication "Diet, Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Europe".

On the occasion of this EuroHeart II national meeting, the National Heart Forum published a report entitled "What is the role of health related food duties?"

The report describes 10 recommendations, which can also be found below:

  1. As a proportionate response to the current crisis in diet-related ill health, the application of additional taxes on foods known to be ‘unhealthy’ should be part of a package of public health policies.
  2. Excise duties are the most promising option because they offer the maximum facility for flexibility, control and focus of the tax instrument.
  3. Taxes applied to specific product categories, such as sugar-sweetened soft drinks (SSSDs), are straightforward to apply and are unlikely to have significant unintended effects.
  4. Price elasticity and cross-price elasticity effects must be carefully analysed to identify potential unintended effects.
  5. Duties on unhealthy foods are not likely to have substantial effects on changing consumption and supply patterns in isolation, but should be part of a comprehensive package of policy measures to shape food consumption and supply.
  6. Careful modelling of any new tax instruments is essential to understand how different types of consumers and businesses are likely to respond, and how combinations of taxes on unhealthy foods with subsidies on healthy foods could potentially achieve fiscally neutral policies.
  7. Concerns about regressivity must be taken into account, but should not, by themselves, be seen as barriers to implementing taxes on foods.
  8. Clear communication of the purpose of a tax and its potential benefits - including how revenues may be used to support health services or health programmes or to subsidise healthy foods - is crucially important, as it will determine public acceptance of the tax.
  9. The term ‘health-related food duty’ is recommended as it conveys the health purpose of the policy and the notion of responsibility underpinning the payment of duties on goods that contribute to social harms.
  10. Any proposed statutory instrument should be introduced with a ‘sunset clause’ so that it is subject to regulatory review after a specified period of time.

The agenda of the meeting and the summary report with a list of participants can be consulted here.