Food Taxation and the Double Burden of Malnutrition

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Dietary transition towards more animal-based and more highly processed energy-dense foods and beverages has led to sufficient or excessive intake of calories, but also a risk of insufficient intake of various essential macro- and micronutrients (the so-called double burden of malnutrition), in high-income countries, as well as in low- and middle-income countries. Taxation of energy-dense and non-essential food and beverage products has been proposed as a policy tool to reduce the intake of these foods, and such taxes have been implemented in several countries, often targeted at sugared beverages, candies, or snacks. Several studies tend to confirm an effect of such taxes on the consumption of the targeted products, but there is less knowledge as to how these taxes influence the “double burden” challenges associated with insufficient intake of important nutrients for some consumers. This paper reviews and discusses the mechanisms and experiences with taxation of unhealthy food products, as well as some implications of food taxation in light of the double burden perspective. Existing evidence suggests that taxation of unhealthy food products has the potential to reduce consumers’ intake of these products and a potential to stimulate the consumption of other food products through substitution effects. However, except for the taxation of “sweets,” it is not generally evident whether such substitution effects will be beneficial or harmful from a nutritional point of view. Concerns in this respect include whether individuals’ sufficiency in different macro- and micronutrients will be improved or deteriorated by such effects, and whether these effects differ between population segments with currently high and low nutritional risk.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHidden Hunger and the Transformation of Food Systems : How to Combat the Double Burden of Malnutrition?
EditorsHans Konrad Biesalski
Number of pages7
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)978-3-318-06697-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-318-06698-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesWorld Review of Nutrition and Dietetics

ID: 251413529