Irish health minister Michael Martin has performed a U-turn on the introduction of a fat tax to fight worsening obesity levels in the Republic, despite having proposed it last year.
“A fat tax makes a sexy headline,” he said this week, “but how would you implement it? There are huge logistical issues.”
He now favours a strategy of working with the industry to reduce the levels of fat in food.
Martin was sharply criticised by various groups for proposing a fat tax. However, this week he said that while he did not want to pre-empt the conclusions of a national task force on obesity by ruling out such a measure, “it is not on the government’s agenda”.
The minister was speaking in Dublin at the launch of a government-backed campaign to target obesity by promoting healthy eating and regular physical activity.
Obesity, he said, was emerging as one of the country’s most serious health problems, with studies showing that “one in eight Irish people is obese and has a much reduced life expectancy”.