We recently heard about Kerala imposing a 14.5 per cent fat tax on junk food, and soon the Capital may follow suit as well. The Dialogue and Development Commission (DDC), which is the Delhi government’s advisory body, has suggested that the government levy a tax on foods and beverages that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fat (HSSS) content. DDC has proposed this plan in order to dissuade the consumption of these foods and further create awareness.
Moreover, the revenue collected by imposing tax on food and beverages containing HSSS should be used for projects aimed at improving community health.
Ashish Khetan, Vice Chairman DDC, said that this is the first time the Delhi Government has received such a proposal. The report, aimed at discouraging the consumption of junk food especially by children, was part of the 70 reports submitted to the government by the DDC over the last one-and-a-half years. A compilation of DDC’s recommendations was recently submitted to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, reported The Indian Express.
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Delhi’s youth was recently making headlines for being majorly prone to obesity and related health issues, so the proposal doesn’t come out of the blue. Further, the DDC’s report cited WHO studies, which stated that 22 per cent of Indian children were “obese and unhealthy” In a city-wise break-up of diabetic population, Delhi, with 11.3 per cent, was behind Hyderabad (16.6 per cent), Chennai (13.5 per cent) and Bengaluru (12.4 per cent).
The report also stated, “our kids are most vulnerable. They are being raised on a staple diet of cola and chips. Schools sell them. Celebrities endorse them. Advertisements target them. As many as 70 per cent of school going children in Delhi consume at least three packets of chips per week.”
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The DDC report also cited a sample survey conducted by the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, New Delhi), which revealed that 8/10 children are consuming unhealthy food. This matter too was taken up popularly, as a result of which certain schools drove away nearby food vendors.
Additionally, the report highlighted the issue of junk foods plaguing through schools. “There is a difference in the extent of obesity and high BMI prevalent in children belonging to higher (11 per cent) and lower (7 per cent) socio-economic status studying in Delhi schools, and how it is directly linked with their pocket money spent on buying junk food. A study on juvenile diabetes and metabolic syndrome in Delhi children in the age group 5-18 shows an upward trend by 3-5 per cent.”
What Does It Propose?
DDC proposes the formulisation of a ‘Delhi School Cafeteria Policy’ to help substitute junk food with “wholesome and nutritive food”. It quoted the examples of countries like Canada, UK, UAE, USA, Mexico, and Finland that have successfully “come up with multiple action plans in the form of regulations, advisory, taxes, policy and Acts”.
It even proposes the prohibition of junk foods and carbonated drinks in schools areas within 300-500 sq. yards of their premise. Regulation and restriction of marketing and promotion of sugary drinks and HSSS junk food is also in the DDC’s agenda.
The commission also proposed that the government dissuades celebs from endorsing such unhealthy foods, pleading with them to reconsider as they influence impressionable minds, and promote healthy eating habits instead.
A bunch of health experts have spoken against the ills of sodas and junk foods to create awareness among consumers. And while the awareness is setting in slowly, will this new tax reform step up the process? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Source: The Indian Express
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