Should there be a junk food tax?

A university researcher wants a junk food tax after finding people are eating twice the amount of salt they should be.

In response, the Bay of Plenty medical officer of health is urging locals to look at how much salt they are consuming.

The Otago University study, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, found New Zealanders were estimated to consume at least twice the recommended intake of salt.

The study’s lead author, associate professor Nick Wilson, said a tax on junk foods, which were high in salt, as well as sugar and unsaturated fat, would make it easier for people to make healthier food choices.

“The money from such a tax could then fund healthy school lunches and help pay for better health services for diseases caused by high salt, especially stroke and heart attacks.”

Professor Wilson said there had been progress on lowering salt in bread but it was not enough.

“That’s why regulating down salt levels as well as considering taxes on junk food are needed to achieve the big gains in health,” he said.

Bay of Plenty Toi Te Ora Public Health Service medical officer of health Neil de Wet told the Bay of Plenty Times people needed only about half a teaspoon a day and he agreed people were consuming more salt than needed.

“Salt enriches flavour and for that reason, it is often added to foods to make them more tasty and the reality is we are often consuming more salt than our body needs,” Dr de Wet said.

The body needs some salt to function well but too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and pose a significant risk of stroke and other cardio-vascular illnesses.

Salt is usually labelled as sodium chloride in foods. High-salt foods included sauces, packet soups, potato chips, sausages and processed meats.

Dr de Wet said it was not necessary to add salt because it was already included in many foods.


What do you think? Should there be a junk food tax? Leave a comment below


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