Subsidise healthy food to help fight obesity says think-tank

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Should healthy food options, including research into lab-grown meat and alternative proteins, be subsidised by the government to make them affordable for all? That’s the suggestion from social policy think-tank Demos.

The report titled Turning the Tables looked at what barriers exist for people looking to eat healthily, and discovered that there were significant barriers for many who wanted to adopt healthy diets.

It’s estimated that, prior to lockdown, 20 million people couldn’t afford healthy food and as many as 19 million find it a struggle to find healthy food in stores near where they live.

Rose Lasko-Skinner, one of Demos’s lead researchers, said: “Ultimately that means people are going in to a shop and really struggling to come out with something that is both healthy and affordable.”

The report recommended:

  • A government fund for the development of lab-grown meat or meat alternatives
  • Subsidising healthy foods that are already low in price, such as tinned tomatoes, carrots, and frozen vegetables to make healthy options much cheaper
  • More government support for fast-food restaurants to move towards healthier foods rather than getting rid of them
  • The government should make high fat, high sugar and high salt food less appealing to customers by working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to change the packaging similar to the changes made to tobacco packaging

It is estimated that 2/3rds of the UK population are above an ideal weight, with 36% overweight and 28% obese. One in three children aged 10 and 11 are overweight or obese, and these children are five times more likely to be obese as adults.

With weight and obesity contributing to serious health conditions, including being linked to more severe instances of Covid-19, it is clear that more dramatic steps are needed to confront the nations weight problem and create a healthier future.

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