Sugar tax: useless for public healthBY PIETRO PAGANINI

Pietro Paganini has released several comments and statements on the so-called Sugar Tax that the Meloni Government intends to implement, inheriting it from previous governments. Below you can read one of his statements as reported by La Repubblica and Il Giornale d’Italia

“Governments introduce the so-called ‘sugar tax‘ as a measure aimed at improving public health while increasing state revenues. However, this tax fails to achieve the goal of reducing obesity and related diseases, instead producing negative side effects for both an essential economic sector and consumers, who face higher costs and are misled into thinking they are improving their health,” states Pietro Paganini, Professor at Temple University in Philadelphia and President of Competere.

“The companies producing sugary beverages and foods,” continues the professor, “may absorb the costs of tax increases by reducing their competitiveness, while consumption – and therefore revenues – tends to decrease, and often, businesses pass the burden of the tax onto consumers by raising prices. Furthermore, the scientific bases of these policies are often incomplete or contradictory.

“Obesity,” he adds, “continues to increase even in regions that have implemented similar taxes, and some studies demonstrate the ineffectiveness of such policies, as in the case of Norway where citizens travel to Sweden to find less expensive foods. The guidelines of the WHO,” he continues, “are based on limited studies and lack robust experimental evidence. On the contrary, there is increasing research showing how an obsession with certain nutrients can lead to eating disorders.”

“It is crucial to recognize that the problem is not sugar itself, but the context of its consumption within an overall lifestyle. If we truly wish to reduce obesity,” asserts Paganini, “we must address our attention to a broader range of factors, such as DNA, lifestyle, socioeconomic conditions, including nutritional education, and promoting an active lifestyle. If the logic that taxes reduce obesity is valid,” he continues, “then we should consider taxes on digital devices, entertainment platforms, micro-mobility means, and household furnishings that contribute to sedentary behavior, one of the great tragedies of modern society.”

“Our government, which promotes the principle of sovereignty, should not merely introduce counterproductive taxes but should address the decline in the adoption of the Mediterranean Diet, which is not just a dietary regimen but a method for designing a balanced individual diet that promotes well-being, longevity, and joy. Therefore, if the goal is truly to improve public health,” concludes Paganini, “a more complex approach is necessary that goes beyond punitive measures like taxation, providing citizens with the necessary tools to make informed and sustainable choices. With these taxes, citizens are misled, costs increase, they are pushed towards alternative markets or substitute products, often more expensive, and a fundamental economic sector is damaged.”


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