To what extent can a tax on processed meat improve population health in Germany?

Johanna-Katharina Schönbach and Stefan K Lhachimi of EBPH recently published an article about potential population health effects following a tax on processed meat. They collaborated with Silke Thiele from the ife Institute of Food Economics, Germany.

The research was motivated by a report, in which the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified processed meat as being carcinogenic to humans (Bouvard et al., 2015; IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risk to Humans, 2018). At the same time, the World Health Organization (WHO) found fiscal policies to have considerable potential for promoting healthier diets, whereby evidence was strongest for taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages as well as subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables (World Health Organization, 2015, 2016). In contrast, there was no evidence for expected health impacts of fiscal policies on processed meat, except for a study which modelled potential effects on cardiometabolic disease deaths following a 10% and 30% price increase for processed meat in the U.S. (Penalvo et al., 2017).

Against this background, Johanna-Katharina Schönbach, Silke Thiele and Stefan K Lhachimi conducted an health impact assessment in order to model to what extent different tax rates on processed meat can potentially improve population health (with regard to prevalent cases of IHD, diabetes, colorectal cancer and deaths) for the European context, using the example of Germany. They found that in projection year 10, an extra 9,300 males and 4,500 females would be alive under the lowest tax scenario (4% tax), compared to the reference scenario. Prevalent IHD, diabetes and colorectal cancer cases in males would be 8,400, 9,500 and 500 lower, respectively, and there would be 4,600, 7,800 and 300 fewer cases in females. Under the highest tax scenario (33.3% tax), an extra 76,700 males and 37,100 females would be alive, compared to the reference scenario. Prevalent IHD, diabetes and colorectal cancer cases would be 70,800, 77,900 and 4,900 lower in males and 29,900, 48,900 and 2,300 lower in females.

Further information

Download the full-text at Preventive Medicine: Link
Contact Johanna-Katharina Schönbach: Link

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