Irish health minister Michael Martin has ruled out a junk food tax to fight obesity, but wants manufacturers and retailers to remove ‘extra-large’ fast food products and ‘super-size’ chocolate bars from the market.
Announcing the introduction of a task force to tackle obesity, the minister said a junk food tax would be difficult and complex.
“I don’t see it as a reality in the short term,” he said, but accepted that it could be recommended by the task force, due to present policy proposals by the end of the year.
Chaired by Irish Olympic medal winner John Treacy, the group includes food industry representatives, medical experts and nutritionists. Obesity is said to be a major Irish health problem, accounting for at least 2,500 deaths annually.
“There are no quick fixes,” Martin warned. “Obesity is caused by lifestyle choices and the focus must be on changing people’s attitudes.”