A ‘MEAT TAX’ could prevent about 220,000 deaths and save more than £30.7billion in healthcare costs worldwide each year, researchers say.
They estimated the level of tax needed to make up for the health costs associated with eating red and processed meat that has been linked to higher rates of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and cancer.
In the UK, the ‘optimal’ levy would raise the cost of red meat by 14 per cent and processed meat by 79 per cent. Lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford university, said it would ‘send a powerful signal to consumers and take pressure off our healthcare systems’.
He added: ‘The consumption of red and processed meat exceeds recommended levels in most high and middle-income countries.
‘This is having significant impacts on personal health, but also on healthcare systems, which are taxpayer-funded in many countries, and on the economy, which is losing its labour force due to ill health and care for family members who fall ill.’
By 2020, eating red and processed meat was likely to cause 2.4million deaths per year and cost the global economy £219billion, the study of 149 world regions found. A tax could reduce consumption by two portions a week.
In the US, an ‘optimal’ tax would see red meat cost 34 per cent more and processed meat an extra 163 per cent. An effective tax in Sweden would mean a 185 per cent rise for processed meat and 27 per cent for red meat.