Beginning of the budget review in 2012 of the Social Security by MPs, October 25, 2011. To cover the deficit, the government expects a tax on sodas and sugary drinks, also supposed to fight obesity in France. Dr. Arnaud Cocaul, nutritionist, gives us his opinion.
Between 1997 and 2009, the average weight of French people rose more than 3 kilos while their waist swelled to half a centimeter over the same period. To apparently stem the obesity phenomenon that has increased in recent years the government has planned two taxes: one concerning sodas and another tax that is on beverages with sweeteners. On soft drinks, the price of cans will thus be increased about 2 cents which would constitute a return of 240 million euros. Drinks containing artificial sweeteners will rake in almost 40 million euros.
Public health measure or budgetary economy? Nutrisystem experts say..
Therein lies the ambiguity of these measures. The French population must lose weight but at the same time, contributing 11 billion euros to the government coffers. This raises several questions: Will this increase be enough to fundamentally change the eating habits of people? Is it not paradoxical to hope that the French consume fewer sugary drinks and hope at the same time they buy enough to fill the hole in Social Security? Finally, if we continue with this logic to tax “unhealthy” beverages, why do we not extend the same system to chips, sweets and other foods that make people fat?
“A sword thrust in the water”
Dr. Arnaud Cocaul is a nutritionist. He shares with Nutrisystem his views on the measures called public health: “This decision is a sword in the water nutritional argument. We advance while people will not change their habits, because like disorders, eating behavior are diverse and cannot be summarized in one take into soft drinks. Some gain weight by quitting smoking, others because of physical inactivity. In this case, you also require the French to be playing sports. If you go to the end of things, we should also tax the cookies, chips and other fatty foods. Finally, why not tax the large sizes of sugary drinks?”
He believes this to be a half measure with little chance of success: “It’s like tobacco. If we want to make a change, it is not an increase in cents we must focus on.”
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