OECD Recommends Taxing Unhealthy Foods to Reduce Obesity 
27 diciembre 2019


Healthy eating. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presented its report entitled “Health in a nutshell 2019” at the end of November, which includes a section dedicated to analyzing overweight and obesity. The organism recommends the development of media campaigns to promote the benefits of a healthy diet and tackle the scourge of obesity, promoting educational content to encourage healthy eating, and levying taxes on unhealthy products. The agency aims to deepen work with member countries to promote these measures throughout 2020.

According to the OECD, “the elevated consumption of high-calorie foods and increasingly sedentary lifestyles” have contributed to “rising obesity rates worldwide”. In 2017, the date of the last available updated data from the report, 58% of adults were overweight or obese in the 23 member countries. The report explains that men are more likely to suffer from these conditions than women and adds that educational levels also have an impact, as the higher people’s education level, the less likely they are to be obese. 

To combat these conditions, the OECD referred to initiatives addressing the social determinants of overweight, such as the Healthy Food Financing Initiative in the United States, and pointed to these as a model to be followed. The US program seeks to improve access to healthy food in underprivileged areas, with a special emphasis on local fresh produce from small-scale farmers. 

Next steps 

The OECD recommends that its member countries promote policies that address the social determinants for overweight and obesity. As these conditions continue to affect the population, the organization will deepen its actions to encourage countries to take measures in the short term to promote healthy eating, including taxes on unhealthy foods and public awareness campaigns for a healthier diet.