We discussed the proposal on TV’s GB News whether sugar and salt should be taxed and vegetables prescribed by the NHS, as an independent review of the food we eat has suggested.
The report, led by businessman Henry Dimbleby, says taxes raised could extend free school meal provision and support better diets among the poorest.
England’s National Food Strategy also wants GPs to try prescribing fruit and vegetables to encourage healthy eating.
The food industry warned new taxes could increase food prices.
Ian Wright, of the Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, said: “Obesity and food is very much about poverty, and we need measures to tackle poverty and to help people to make choices they need to make.”
The government has promised to respond with proposals for future laws within six months.
The review, commissioned by the government in 2019, says historic reforms of the food system are needed to protect the NHS, improve the health of the nation and save the environment.
The new taxes would be applied to wholesale sugar and salt purchased by manufacturers, which could in turn raise some prices on shelves.
But Mr Dimbleby said: “We do not actually believe that for most things it will hike the price – what it will do is it will reformulate, it will make people take sugar and salt out.”
The review describes the Covid-19 pandemic as a “painful reality check” that has revealed the scale of food-related ill-health.
“Our high obesity rate has been a major factor in the UK’s tragically high death rate,” said Mr Dimbleby, who co-founded the fast food chain Leon.