The news follows calls from the European Heart Network (EHN) which claims a fat tax in the UK is “long overdue” and stressed the need for decisive action to curb the risk of coronary heart disease brought about by obesity.
Nina Best, food law expert at law firm Browne Jacobson, dismissed these claims however, insisting that the introduction of such a tax could lead to serious problems for the industry.
She said: “The introduction of a fat tax in the UK would be very difficult for the government to suggest right now and for the industry to stomach. The impending Food Information Regulations are already making waves and the force of the Nutrition and Health Regulations is only just being felt.
“The Introduction of a tax on foods would be sure to cripple certain producers and would not be a sensible move.”
The Nutrition and Health Regulations should have a significant impact on the way certain foods are marketed so it would be wise for government to let regulators try this weapon first before introducing a new one, she added.
The call from the EHN follows the Danish government’s recent move to place a levy on foods that contain more than 2.3% saturated fat.
The Food and Drink Federation expressed concern that a similar tax applied to the UK would have severe repercussions on low-income families, who can ill afford higher food prices.
A spokeswoman also said: “The food and drink manufacturing industry is already playing a key role in the drive to reduce obesity and improve public health.
Our members invest in clear and informative on-pack labelling, responsible advertising and marketing and healthy lifestyle education initiatives. They have also been working hard to reformulate their products and to provide choice through ‘low in’ products.”
Complex problems like obesity require a wide range of interventions and the involvement of many interested parties to drive real changes in behaviour – not just more tax, she added.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) revealed that nearly one in three UK children eat sweets, chocolate and crisps more than three times a day.
In a survey of 2,000 11 to 16-year-olds, 29% of children were shown to indulge in unhealthy snacks with a total of 40% admitting to drinking fizzy drinks every day.
It also showed that 88% of youngsters in the UK were not eating the recommended five portions of fruit and veg every day, with statistics also revealing that 34% of children are more likely to eat crisps than fruit.
As a result a third of children in England, aged between 11 and 15, are now overweight and obese, according to the BHF.
Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the BHF, said: “Five-a-day seems to have a whole new meaning for some young people. They are consuming an alarming amount of fizzy drinks, sweets, chocolate and crisps as a regular part of their daily diet.
“It’s already been suggested that this generation of children may not live longer than their parents due to the implications of their lifestyle on levels of obesity.”