Tougher regulation would be acceptable to a population tired of footing the bill for those who do not take responsibility for their own health, said Barry Clarke, account director at consumer trends organisation Future Foundation, speaking at the Food Vision event in Cannes last month.
“If you look at the support people have for existing regulation that’s been put in around sugar, including vending machines in schools, you’ll see the majority of consumers support those measures,” said Clarke.
Any legislation introduced would have to be done more carefully than occurred with Denmark’s failed ‘fat tax’, which Clarke described as being “crudely” handled. “The [British] government would’ve learnt from the failure of the Danish scheme and will look to go down different routes for the same results,” he said. “I think it will be centred on labelling and public awareness in the first instance.
“I wouldn’t rule out ultimately going down a fiscal route, that may well happen if the government felt other measures to encourage people [to adopt healthy diets] haven’t been successful.”
The legislation would be framed as being for the common good similar to seatbelt requirements and bans on smoking Clarke claimed. He said there was a growing trend for an assault on ‘pleasure’, which involved some people seeking to curb others indulging in unhealthy products.
Food futurologist Morgaine Gaye said sugary and alcoholic drinks could be taxed off the back of this trend.
“One of the overriding trends I’ve been talking about for a couple of years is prohibition,” she claimed. “I think we are going to start seeing it in alcohol. Fat and obesity, is part of that picture and we will start to see taxation around things which might be considered unhealthy.”