Science and Technology

Vision Research USP proposes taxing foods according to saturated fat

The surcharge would reduce consumption of saturated fatty acids in 29.8% for men and 35.7% for women

Research of the Faculty of Economics, Business and Accounting of RibeirĂ£o Preto (FEARP) USP proposes taxing foods according to their saturated fat content. The study also indicates the use of the revenue to encourage consumption of healthy foods.

According to survey results, the novelty could assist in reducing the alarming rates of obesity in Brazil, reducing the consumption of saturated fatty acids at 29.8% for men and 35.7% for women between 19 and 59 years. The proposal is one of the conclusions of the dissertation economist Rodrigo Leifert held in FEARP.

To estimate the demand for food consumed at home in Brazil and the trend of replacing fattening foods with the introduction of the tax, the researcher relied on the Household Budget Survey (HBS) of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and rated the food into groups according to the content of saturated fat. Groups with higher saturated fat such as oils and fats (soybean oil, vegetable fat and oil), processed meat (nuggets, hamburger, sausage, sausage and ham), dairy products (milk, butter, margarine and cheese) and sugars (sugar refiando, crystal sugar, chocolates, sweets and ice cream) would be surcharged as cereals, fruits and vegetables and tubers receive subsidies to reduce prices.

The study is the first suggestion of a public policy to combat obesity. The theme is innovative, controversial and will require further studies for the introduction of tax models that encourage changes in the Brazilian diet, highlights Leifert. According to him, the role of research is to understand the effects of taxation on food consumption in replacing engordativas for healthy options.

The introduction of specific taxes, in order to limit the consumption of foods with adverse effects on weight already being applied in other countries. Denmark has, in 2011, a tax on foods high in saturated fats. The same year, France passed a tax on beverages with added sugar. Similar proposals are being discussed in Finland, Sweden and the UK.