UK’s junk food advertising consultation decried as ‘patronising’

But Bill Wirtz, Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC), said multiple problems arise with the proposal.

“The first problem is the definition of what constitutes “junk food”. Take this practical example: 100 grams of foie gras has 462 calories, while a Big Mac burger of the same weight has only 257 calories. And yet, we don’t imagine foie gras when we think of junk food,” he said.

“When we start having to cut butter and bacon from advertising is when we notice that we haven’t properly defined what is being meant.

“And if we apply only what most people mean by junk food or fast food, then we’re being thoroughly inconsistent. Also, which ads “target” children? Many TV ads are age-neutral.

“Consumers should be allowed to make their own choices regarding their nutrition. The responsibility of children lies with parents.

“Parents and educators should bank on education and physical activity, which are most effective at curbing childhood obesity. Advertising bans are just patronising.”

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

FDA chief’s resignation casts cloud over vaping crackdown

Dr. Gottlieb didn’t protect the public health by preventing youth initiation of e-cigarettes, and he didn’t do enough to help adult smokers quit,” said Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center, part of the coalition formed by Americans for Tax Reform. “The next FDA commissioner should follow the science and do everything possible to prevent youth initiation of e-cigarettes, while at the same time helping adult smokers switch.”

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

La police de la santé publique progresse

Les “défenseurs de la santé publique” se sont d’abord attaqué au tabac et à l’alcool, ils s’attaquent désormais à notre alimentation quotidienne.

Dans un rapport publié fin janvier dans le journal médical réputé The Lancet, l’auteur principal, Boyd Swinburn, plaide en faveur d’une plus grande intervention afin de réduire les effets de la malnutrition sur la santé publique.

Ce rapport de 56 pages est une longue liste de prescriptions politiques pour améliorer la santé publique — y compris l’augmentation des taxes ou la réduction de la publicité. Avant tout, les chercheurs semblent très inquiets que Big Food (l’industrie de l’alimentation) s’immisce dans le débat sur la nutrition, et croient que ces professionnels organisent en effet unilatéralement une “syndémie mondiale” (*), comme ils l’appellent.

Voici un extrait du rapport :

“Certaines mesures gouvernementales, y compris des règlements sur la commercialisation d’aliments et de boissons malsaines auprès des enfants, des étiquettes spéciales sur les emballages, des politiques fiscales comme les taxes sur les boissons gazeuses et des lois sur la protection des consommateurs peuvent aider à limiter cette consommation d’aliments malsains axée sur l’offre.”

Voyez-vous le problème ? “Consommation axée sur l’offre” implique que la demande d’aliments malsains n’est pas le résultat d’un désir réel du marché, mais plutôt d’une commercialisation intelligente. Les consommateurs sont considérés comme des pantins sans cervelle exploitable par l’industrie et non comme des individus.

La raison est claire : si vous admettez que les gens font des choix responsables et individuels, vous ne pourrez pas faire valoir que les interventions gouvernementales sont des mesures de protection. La déshumanisation des décisions de marché est essentielle à la politique de l’État-nounou.

Le rapport du Lancet est long, mais il vaut la peine d’être lu si vous voulez connaître de près l’état d’esprit sinistre des défenseurs des politiques de santé publique.

Les mesures d’emballages fortement réglementés, la hausse des taxes et les campagnes gouvernementales constantes sur les aliments se multiplient de façon effrayante.

En plus de la réglementation gouvernementale très intrusive, les chercheurs plaident pour l’infiltration de leurs idées à travers les individus en tant qu’activistes de l’alimentation, si jamais leurs propositions n’étaient pas assez dissuasives. C’est ainsi qu’ils décrivent leurs opportunités :

“Les gens vivent dans des réseaux d’influence. L’influence la plus forte est au niveau de la famille et des cercles sociaux mais les gens interagissent et influencent aussi dans de nombreux milieux — par exemple les lieux de travail, les écoles, les universités, les magasins, les lieux de loisirs, les villages et les communautés locales. Même au niveau macroéconomique, le fait d’être un consommateur, d’utiliser les médias de masse ou de travailler au sein du gouvernement ou d’autres systèmes offre une occasion de créer de l’influence.”

Il n’y a rien de mal à ce que les gens défendent un changement au niveau personnel ou familial. Ce qui est déconcertant, c’est que ces auteurs seront des acteurs clés pour conseiller les décideurs publics. Ils pourraient faire en sorte que les gens soient informés par des fonctionnaires du gouvernement sur la façon de convaincre leurs amis et leur famille de s’inscrire pour devenir des “ambassadeurs de l’alimentation” ou peu importe le nom qu’on donnerait. Une utopie cauchemardesque pour s’immiscer dans les choix personnels de chacun de nous.

L’une des prescriptions est également qu’il devrait y avoir une conférence internationale qui pourra évaluer la nécessité et l’efficacité des nouvelles politiques.

Découvrez la CCLAT

La convention CCLAT est le premier traité de santé mondiale adopté par l’OMS. Elle a été ratifiée par 181 pays et constitue la base d’un certain nombre de lois nationales à travers le monde, telles que les taxes sur le tabac, les restrictions publicitaires et d’autres mesures comme le paquet neutre.

La CCLAT exclut de ses réunions les organisations de médias et les ONG qu’elle juge inutiles et discute à huis clos de ses recommandations politiques, qui vont s’appliquer à des milliards de personnes. Le fait que tout cela soit très coûteux et financé par les contribuables va sans dire.

Vous n’êtes peut-être pas fumeur mais ne soyez pas indifférent à la CCLAT qui pourrait à terme réglementer beaucoup d’autres secteurs de consommation. Une CCLAT pour les aliments proposerait des mesures aussi draconiennes que celles qui s’appliquent au tabac : augmentation des taxes sur les péchés, diminution de l’accès et étiquetage clair.

Si vous n’y croyez pas, jetez un coup d’œil à ce tweet de Jennifer Browne, nutritionniste en santé publique (qui a depuis été supprimé en raison des réactions) :

Préparez-vous à voir l’alimentation se renchérir et à des supermarchés ternes si ces gens obtiennent ce qu’ils veulent.

Arrêtons l’État-nounou !

Si vous ne défendez pas la liberté des fumeurs, des buveurs et de ceux qui aiment les jeux de hasard, même si vous réprouvez leurs choix de vie, alors vous êtes condamné à être le prochain.

La CCLAT alimentaire argumentera : “quand nous l’avons fait pour le tabac, vous étiez d’accord avec les mêmes principes de taxation, d’accès limité et d’interdiction de marque.”

Allez-vous dire que “c’est différent” ? Pourquoi ce serait différent ? Les hamburgers ne sont pas les choix nutritionnels les plus sains pour tous.

Certains choix comportent des risques que nous assumons car il nous apportent du plaisir. Respecter les choix des autres sans nous élever à une prétendue norme morale supérieure signifie vivre dans une société libre.

Vivre et laisser vivre. Ce n’est vraiment pas si difficile.

(*)        Ce néologisme est employé dans la littérature médicale autour des pathologies liées au VIH et à la toxicomanie. Il désigne un ensemble de problèmes de santé qui se renforcent mutuellement.

Originally published at https://la-chronique-agora.com/police-sante-publique-progresse/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Should the U.S. Ban Junk Food Ads on Public Transport?

Critics of the ban

Fred Roeder, managing director of the London-based Consumer Choice Center, said:

“Combating childhood obesity is a noble goal, but trampling on consumer choice and the rights of adult consumers isn’t an appropriate solution.”

Roeder cites Quebec as an example: in 1980, the Canadian province banned junk-food advertising and “contrary to the expected outcomes, childhood obesity rates went up by 140% in the 15 years following the introduction of the ban.

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

The Food Nannies Are Coming to Protect You from Hamburgers and Soda

Dehumanizing market decisions is key to patronizing nanny-state policies.

In a report published in The Lancet at the end of January, lead author Boyd Swinburn makes the case for greater government intervention in order to reduce the public health effects of malnutrition.

The 56-page report is a long list of known policy prescriptions to increase public health, including increased taxation and reduced means of marketing. Most of all, the researchers seem very worried that Big Food is meddling in the debate around nutrition and believe that the industry is, indeed, unilaterally organizing the global “syndemic,” as they call it.

Take this extract:

Some government measures, including regulations for the marketing of unhealthy food and beverage products to children, front-of-pack warning labels, fiscal policies such as soda taxes, and consumer protection laws can help to constrain this supply-driven consumption of unhealthy foods.

Did you notice the term “supply-driven?” This implies that the consumption of unhealthy food isn’t the result of actual market demand, but rather that of clever marketing wherein consumers are seen as mindless drones under the influence of Big Food, not as individuals.

The reason is clear: Were you to accept that people make responsible individual choices, then you couldn’t make the argument that large-scale government intervention is necessary as a measure of protection. Dehumanizing market decisions is key to patronizing nanny-state policies.

The report is a lengthy but worthwhile read if you’re interested in a first-hand look at the sinister mindset of public health policy advocates. We are familiar with the usual measures of heavily regulated packaging, higher taxation, and constant government campaigns regarding food. The report, however, takes it a step further.

The researchers also recognize that some of their measures will fail and therefore claim that some efforts need to be made by individuals through government guidance. This is demonstrated in the desire to see these ideas proliferate through individuals as food activists. This is how they describe the opportunity:

People live in networks of influence. Their influence is greatest at the micro level with family and social circles, but people also interact in and influence many settings— e.g. workplaces, schools, universities, shops, recreational settings, villages, and local communities. Even at the macro level, being a consumer, using mass media, or working in government or other macro systems provides an opportunity to create influence.

There is nothing wrong with people arguing for change at the personal/family level. What is disconcerting is that these authors will be key actors in advising public policymakers.

Imagine the scenario: people are briefed by government bureaucrats on how to convince their friends and family to sign up to become “food ambassadors,” or whatever they would be called, leading to a dystopian and intrusive interference with people’s personal choices.

One of the prescriptions is also that there should be an international conference that can assess the necessity and effectiveness of new policies.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is the first global health treaty enacted by the World Health Organization (WHO). It has been ratified by 181 countries and forms the basis of a number of national laws across the globe, including tobacco taxes, advertising restrictions, and plain cigarette packaging.

Brace for expensive food and sterile supermarkets if these people get their way.

Each biannual meeting is dominated by various health ministries and anti-tobacco organizations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Framework Convention Alliance, which are not only granted “observer status” but also intervene in the large plenary debates and use their platform to shame the delegates of any country that doesn’t adopt a prohibitionist attitude toward tobacco.

The FCTC excludes media organizations and NGOs it deems unhelpful from its meetings and discusses its policy recommendations for billions of people behind closed doors. The fact that this is all very expensive and taxpayer-funded should go without saying.

Presumably, only a minority of readers here are smokers and could, therefore, shrug off this particular example. However, the FCTC is constantly used as an example of how to regulate myriad other areas of consumption, as well. An FCTC for food would come up with similarly draconian measures as those for tobacco: increased sin taxes, decreased access, and plain-packaged labeling.

If you don’t believe it, check out this tweet from public health nutritionist Jennifer Browne (which has since been deleted as a result of backlash):

Brace for expensive food and sterile supermarkets if these people get their way.

If you don’t defend the liberty of smokers, drinkers, and gamblers, regardless of how repulsive you may find their life choices on a personal level, then you’re condemned to be next. Liberty and consumer choice are best defended if done consistently. That’s because the argument for a food FCTC will be: “When we did it for tobacco, you agreed with the same principles of taxation, limited access, and banned branding.” Will you say that “this is different”? How so, exactly?

Hamburgers aren’t exactly the healthiest of all nutritional options, yet we still eat them. It’s because we recognize that some vices aren’t good for us, but we choose the associated risks of consumption over the prospect of never enjoying anything we eat. This is not to say that vegetarian diets cannot be tasty; simply that they just aren’t for everyone. Respecting individuals’ choices without elevating our own to a pretended higher moral standard is what it means to live in a free society.

Live and let live. It’s really not that hard.

Originally published at https://fee.org/articles/the-food-nannies-are-coming-to-protect-you-from-hamburgers-and-soda/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Calorie caps or consumer choice?

Now that we’re well-into February, many of us are giving up on our January goals of cutting down on booze, saving money, learning Sanskrit, or whatever else we planned to finally do in 2019. There’s always next year! If your new year’s resolution was to finally get in shape, then you’re in luck; the government is planning to make sure you stick to your new diet with an iron fist.

Of course, many will not find this particularly surprisingly. We’ve often seen campaigns and drives to get people exercising or to promote healthy eating (the NHS’s Change4Life adverts remain fully ingrained into my childhood memories). Yet, it seems as though the state has tired of the let’s-get-busy, Richard Simmons-esque approach to combating obesity, and is now taking more-draconian route to force you to eat healthy. 

On Christmas Day, The Telegraph revealed the contents of draft legislation which would impose a ‘calorie cap’ on food bought in supermarkets and restaurants. Packaged sandwiches could not exceed 550 calories. Ready meals could not exceed 544 calories. Takeaway restaurants would have to ensure they didn’t sell you a pizza exceeding 1040 calories. 

Currently, many such food items would stand in violation of the proposed caps. In fact, many critics of the proposed caps are concerned that it might not even be feasible for many food items to meet the new requirements. Some, such as Christopher Snowdon of the IEA, have questioned the logic behind the cap limits, calling them “arbitrary, unscientific, and unrealistic”.

Indeed, it’s difficult to fully understand why PHE have decided on this route, let alone how they arrived at the figures used in the caps. As my colleague Bill Wirtz points out in a statement on the proposal, Britain’s obesity problem is far more an issue of underactivity, rather than too much energy intake. In fact, caloric consumption has actually decreased for the average Brit over the past decades.

Thus far, it would seem that the proposed cap is unnecessary and potentially unfeasible. Meanwhile, consumers will have to shoulder much of the burden for a heavy-handed measure that promises little results. 

After all, there’s a strong relationship between good-tasting food and a high caloric content. When we eat unhealthy food, for the most part, we do so in the knowledge that we’re being a bit naughty. We willfully discount the negative effects on our health in favour of the pleasure it brings us when we order a takeaway or go out for a meal. Ultimately, this a decision that we should be allowed to make for ourselves; should we not be trusted to choose for ourselves what we consume? 

Imposing a calorie cap as per PHE’s suggestion will simply cause restaurateurs and those in the food industry a headache, limit the choice of British consumers, and ultimately make our dining experience a lot more miserable. 

Sadly, however, such a decision is fairly par for the course. Just a few months ago I wrote on a proposal to ban ‘freakshakes’ – milkshakes adorned with copious amounts of sauce, cakes, biscuits, or other sugary treats. As I argued then, the state’s role in public health is not to protect us from ourselves. As free adults, we should enjoy the right to decide to what we eat, regardless of its good for us. 

If the government wishes to take an interest in fighting the obesity problem in Britain, it should do so without limiting our choices or bodily autonomy. It should be a case of informing people of the dangers of frequent unhealthy eating, and promoting active lifestyles. To outright impose a limit on how caloric our food can be sends the message that Brits just can’t be trusted to look after their bodies without nanny telling us how many rusks we’re allowed. 

Let’s not allow 2019 to become yet another year of handing over personal responsibilities to the state. Ultimately, a cap on calories as proposed by PHE seems neither well-thought out, with so many in the food industry questioning its feasibility,  nor respectful of our freedom to choose. 

Brits deserve the right to decide how and what they eat, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy it’s been deemed. Let’s make 2019 the year we stop letting the government make our orders for us, and choose from the menu ourselves. It is, after all, the year of the pig!

UK supermarket meals could face calorie limits to combat obesity

Bill Wirtz, policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, said: “The intentions of PHE are understandable, but rectifying the bad nutritional habits and lack of exercise of some with outright bans for others is just blatantly unfair.”

He added: “Nobody is denying that we could all lose weight by only living on water and crispbread, but being a free society means being able to enjoy a pizza, a burger or an ice cream when you like. Educating rather than banning should be our aim.

“Ultimately it’s the government that needs to make the decisions regarding these proposed bans on food items. Even a simple execution of PHE’s recommendations would be [a] clear message that this government does not believe in informed and responsible consumers.”

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

CCC calls calorie limits ‘a major threat to consumer choice’

PACKAGING NEWS: Bill Wirtz, policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said that the UK government needs to step in. “The intentions of PHE are understandable, but rectifying the bad nutritional habits and lack of exercise of some with outright bans for others is just blatantly unfair,” said Wirtz.

“In October, Public Health England indicated that more than 37 percent of 10 and 11 year-olds in London are overweight or obese. It is often mistakenly argued that this is caused by high energy intake, but the obesity rates are dependent on the physical activity, which according to the Public Health England has decreased by 24 per cent since the 1960s. Daily calorie intake in the UK is also decreasing each decade. It’s exercise many people are lacking.

“Nobody is denying that we could all lose weight by only living on water and crispbread, but being a free society means being able to enjoy a pizza, a burger or an ice-cream when you like. Educating rather than banning should be our aim.

“Ultimately it’s the government that needs to make the decisions regarding these proposed bans on food items. Even a simple execution of PHE’s recommendations would be clear message that this government does not believe in informed and responsible consumers. We’ll take notes,” said Wirtz

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Your supermarket sandwich could soon have a calorie cap, under new proposals

THESTAR: However, the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) has argued that “education rather than banning” should be the aim of reducing the obesity crisis.

Commenting on the proposals, Bill Wirtz, Policy Analyst for the CCC said: “The intentions of PHE are understandable, but rectifying the bad nutritional habits and lack of exercise of some with outright bans for others is just blatantly unfair.

“Nobody is denying that we could all lose weight by only living on water and crispbread, but being a free society means being able to enjoy a pizza, a burger or an ice-cream when you like. Educating rather than banning should be our aim.

Wirtz added: “Ultimately it’s the government that needs to make the decisions regarding these proposed bans on food items. Even a simple execution of PHE’s recommendations would be a clear message that this government does not believe in informed and responsible consumers.”

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

The fallacy of the meat tax

Bill Wirtz examines the shortcomings of the proposed tax on red meat.

In a recent publication for the University of Oxford, Dr. Marco Springmann and James Martin, both Fellows at the Oxford Martin School argue for the introduction of additional taxes on red meat. Springmann makes the case that taxing products such as bacon could save thousands of lives every year, due to the meat’s association with higher chances heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.

Most striking is the regressiveness of a meat tax. All too often, the people suggesting these taxes are not the ones most affected by them. Even if a red meat tax were introduced, “public health advocates” could still afford as much meat as they choose to pay for. That is not the case for the poorest in society. Like for any other consumption tax, it’s the poorest who are most affected by the measure compared to higher earners. Unless we are sympathetic to the idea that the poor should be more overprotected than those that high-income earners, a meat tax would be socially unjust.

It’s saddening that in a world where paternalism is taking over, there is a need to defend one thing: consumers should be allowed to enjoy themselves. Yes, they should be made aware of the health risks associated with their lifestyles, but ultimately it should be up to the individual to choose for themselves what they want to eat. If not, then it won’t end there: once consumers give up red meat, proponents of the Nanny State will just find a new angle through which they trample upon enjoyment. At least today, if you’re looking to live to 120 and be boring, you can do it without impeding on the free choices of others.

But we should not only quarrel with the principle, but also with the statistics.

The essential claim is that processed meat is a danger to public health, as it is associated with an increased risk of cancer. The “associated with” are quite the important key words here, especially since they are being repeated so often. Everything you consume is essentially carcinogenic, and can therefore be linked to different cancers. The question is how dangerous it is exactly. The study Springmann bases his claims on is a 2011 meta-analysis from the Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences, which says this:

“The preventability of colorectal cancer in theUnited Kingdom through reduced consumption of red meat, increased fruit and vegetables, increased physical activity, limited alcohol consumption and weight control was estimated to be 31.5 per cent of colorectal cancer in men and 18.4 per cent in women.”

You may have noticed here that reducing red meat consumption is just one out of five key characteristics that people would have to follow in order to cut down their risk of colorectal cancer by up to a third (for men). If you narrow it down only to red meat consumption, you find a possible risk reduction in the UK of five per cent, provided the person was eating more than 80g of red meat per day. So yes, certain people can reduce their risk of certain cancersto a certain degree if they limit their consumption of red meat.

However, this is only true if people reduce their consumption of red meat without offsetting it with any other consumption.

It seems that there is an unfortunate disinterest of public health advocates for the occurrence of unintended consequences. If you limit access to one product, people are likely to find alternative routes to consume that product elsewhere. Take the example of Denmark’s fat tax, introduced in the same year that the Paris meta-analysis was published. In October 2011, Denmark’s leading coalition introduced a tax on fattening foods and beverages, such as butter, milk, cheese, meat, pizza, and oil, as long as they contain more than 2.3 per cent saturated fat. After fifteen months, the same parliamentary majority repealed the tax, as the Danes recognised the measure to be a failure.

Still, a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that in the months during the implemented tax, the sale of these foods fell by between 10 and 15 per cent. But, this does not account for the stockpiling or hoarding effect that the Danes experienced prior to the introduction of the tax: in fact, when analysing the effects over the 15 months during which the tax was in effect in Denmark, we saw a marginal drop of 0.9 per cent in consumption of fatty foods and beverages, which lies within the margin of error.

What exactly British consumers will do when presented with a massive tax hike on red meat is hard to tell at this point, but it certainly isn’t as clear-cut as public health advocates would like it to appear. The fact that they don’t account for possible unintended consequences shows more of an activist behaviour than one of scientific research.

Originally published at http://commentcentral.co.uk/the-fallacy-of-the-meat-tax/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.