EuroHealthNet responds to the WHO draft guidelines on fiscal policies to promote healthy diets
In current food environments, energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods are readily available, heavily marketed and relatively cheap. Consumers are challenged to make healthy and affordable food-related decisions that are consistent with a healthy diet. Affordability of food is a key determinant of the food environment and changes in price influence consumer demand for many foods and beverages. Fiscal measures, including both taxation and subsidies have long been recognised as a viable policy option to promote healthy diets. Despite some progress in implementing fiscal measures, governments continue to face challenges in their attempts to develop such measures.
To support Member States in establishing enabling food environments to promote healthy diets and improve nutrition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has produced evidence-informed guidelines on the food environment, including fiscal policies.
EuroHealthNet has responded to the draft guidelines, in our response we highlight
- the importance to explicitly identify the sources of harmful actions impacting the promotion of healthy diets, such as for-profit food and drink industry and business operators,
- the value of narratives from EU Member States Joint Action on Implementing Validated Best Practices on Nutrition (JA Best-ReMaP) and Horizon Europe-funded research project FEAST,
- the need to achieve system-oriented solutions, well-conceived fiscal policies can and should also be employed in guiding consumers and food systems for making more sustainable and greener dietary choices,
- considering adding various governance levels at which sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) could be taxed for Recommendation 1 when implementing the guidelines, whilst applying an equity and rights-based approach to fiscal policies applied to diets for all Recommendations.