Health E Guide Nutrition, Cambridge Ontario

Ruth Thompson, Registered Nutritionist: RHN, RNCP, ROHP, MSW

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Will Labels and Taxes Reduce Demand for Junk Food?

 Posted by: Ruth Thompson RHN, RNCP, ROHP, MSW at 15:19, March 25 2013

In an effort to combat obestiy, the Ontario Medical Association recently proposed warning labels and taxes on junk food, high in sugar and fat.  Unfortunately, I doubt that this will make any difference to the demand for junk food.

If the past is an indicator, taxing junk food will initially reduce consumption, but as people get used to the higher price their desire for junk food will overcome their concern about cost.  Labelling of junk food might help, but my experience suggests that people will still ignore labels UNLESS they understand how the ingredients affect their own health.  Free education on the impact of poor quality food is available but, sadly, it is ignored, judging by the high demand for junk food.   

In my private nutrition practice I help my clients understand the link between junk food and their health issues. As a result they reduce their consumption of junk food and  the vast majority of my clients lose weight easily.  Ultimately, the more people I influence, the less demand there will be for junk food;  manufacturers will voluntarily make healthful changes to their products to stay competitive.  Because of consumer demands, we have already seen an increase in foods that are "additive free" and "trans fat free."

I am not the only one that believes that consumer education is the best way to reduce damand for junk food.   Unfortunately, my the services of nutritionists, like myself, are not part of the public health system.  Our influence is limited to those with the means to pay.   If the influential OMA really wanted to make a difference, they should lobby for nutrition services to be part of health care. This would make more of a difference in addressing obesity than labelling and taxing junk food.


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