Parents Urge Maharashtra Govt To Impose Tax On Processed Food

Are you worried about your child getting cookies, cakes, and chocolates from school during festival celebrations and special events? Ask any boomer, millennial, and Gen Z, they will tell you that one of the fondest memories of their childhood is receiving boondi laddoo while celebrating Independence Day or Republic Day or distributing chocolates on their birthdays. The distribution of sweets in schools across India is like a tradition, but experts in Maharashtra are protesting against it. 

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According to reports, non-profit organisations Early Childhood Association (ECA) and the Association for Preparatory Education and Research (APER), comprising educationists, academicians, parents, and child psychologists, have submitted a request to the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, food, and public and the chief minister urging them to impose a tax on high processed food items containing sugar, salt, and fat in a high amount. 

The experts and NGOs believe that imposing a tax on such foods will encourage schools to discontinue the distribution of chocolates, cakes, cookies, and other such items on birthdays and events. They feel that this would encourage schools to replace these items with fresh fruits.

Obesity Among Children 

The NGOs, APER and ECA, conducted a study on 3000 parents and asked them questions about the food habits of their children and the McDonald’s Case, in which an outlet was using cheese substitutes without disclosure. The study concluded that consuming processed fat, salt, and sugar was pushing children towards obesity. 

Swati Popat Vats, president of ECA, reportedly wrote, “Recently McDonald’s was identified for misleading promotion of non-cheese items as cheese, basically using substitutes. This can lead to health-related issues in children and to curb all such hidden practices, ECA and APER urge you to bring about food inspection and labelling practices so that children of Maharashtra can be assured of a healthy childhood. Children may be 20 per cent of our present population but they are 100 per cent of our future.”

The letter has urged the Union Government to impose a 14.5 per cent indirect cess or fat tax on food products like pizzas, burgers, tacos, pasta, sandwiches, bread fillings, and doughnuts. The letter pointed out that a health tax on these items will ultimately help to ensure the health of children. Reportedly, the ECA has mentioned that in the UK, they have successfully implemented taxes on sugar, high-fat sugary, sugar-sweetened beverages, and salty food items. In the letter, the organisation also mentioned that Kerala is the first state in India to impose such a tax. 

Explaining the survey, Vats said, “Healthy food should not be imposed as a rule and we should strive to make it a way of life instead. If implemented as a rule it will only be resisted and so education about the facts is very important. We know of the obesity argument for staying away from junk food. But when we talk about children, we must also be worried about the impact of diet on their learning and thinking skills."