Nutrition taxes: a broken tool in public health policy

Frédéric Sautet, September 2014

Excess weight and obesity have been on the rise for more than 40 years in many countries around the world. The United Nations has stated that obesity is now a greater threat than smoking. At present, 15% of French adults are considered obese — meaning they have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 — compared to only 8.5% in 1997. In the United States, one‐third of the population is regarded as overweight (with a BMI of 25 to 30), and an additional one‐third is obese. Higher consumption of foods seen as being low in nutritional value (especially those containing saturated fats or fast sugars) takes the blame. To lower consumption, two recent reports by French senators favor instituting new taxes on such foods.

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