Expanding Swiss chew over junk food tax

Worldwide more than 640 million people are now considered obese Keystone

More and more Swiss want to tax high sugar and unhealthy products like junk food, with three out of four people saying the advertising of junk food targeting children should be banned.

This content was published on September 13, 2016 - 15:30 with agencies

Some 23% of Swiss people say a new tax should be imposed on food with high sugar, salt or fat content, up from 19% last year, according to a new survey by the gfs.bern institute published on Tuesday.

Of those questioned, 72% want a ban on the advertising of junk food targeting children, up from 61% last year.

The Food and Physical Exercise telephone poll, carried out among 1,008 people, found that two-thirds of Swiss believe that the state should subsidise healthy foodstuffs, up from 50% in 2015. Nine out of ten people also feel businesses and politicians should take a more active role promoting healthy lifestyles.

The number of people across the globe whose weight poses a serious threat to their health continues to increase. A survey in 2013 found that two-fifths of the Swiss population aged 15 and older were overweight, despite the fact that over the past ten years people have increased the amount of exercise they take.

There was a marked difference between the sexes in the numbers who are overweight: 51% of men and 32% of women. However, the difference between the proportion of obese people was much smaller: 11% of men and 9% of women.

Growing obesity

A global study of trends in body mass index (BMI) published in March 2016 found that worldwide more than 640 million people now weigh in as obese and the world has more overweight than underweight people.

BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared and is an indication of whether a person is a healthy weight, although one should bear in mind that BMI doesn’t differentiate between the weight of fat and muscle.

The number of people with a BMI of more than 30 (moderately obese) rose from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014, the study found. More than one in ten men and one in seven women is obese. Swiss women, however, had the lowest BMIs in Europe.

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