Calls for takeaways to be taxed at the highest rate of VAT to combat obesity
The Irish Heart Foundation has called for takeaway foods to be taxed at the highest rate of VAT to try and fight the worsening obesity crisis in Ireland.
The calls were made in response to an episode of RTÉ’s This Week, where it was revealed that takeaway foods in Ireland benefit from a special rate of 9% VAT, which was brought in in 2011 to help boost the Irish hospitality sector after the recession. The Head of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation, Chris Macey has said that takeaways should be subject to the same rates of tax as other unhealthy foods, such as the Sugar Tax, which was introduced earlier this year.
“We would say that this rate should not just go back to 13.5% for hot takeaway food. It should be taxed at the highest rate,” Macey said. “Defibrillators that save people’s lives are taxed at the highest rate, yet we have a situation where hot takeaway food that is contributing to the biggest health crisis in the history of the State is taxed at a low rate.”
The RTÉ episode follows the news that nine patients with obesity have died on waiting lists for bariatric (weight loss) surgery in Ireland in the last five years, with more than half developing a new obesity-related illness while on the list, according to a new study presented at the Sir Peter Freyer Surgical meeting in NUI Galway on Friday.
Speaking to the Irish Heart Foundation about the news, Ms Helen Heneghan, Consultant Bariatric Surgeon at St Vincent’s University Hospital and St Columcille’s Hospital in Dublin said: “It is extremely concerning that 9 patients have died in the last four or five years who had been listed for bariatric surgery. If that happened on any other waiting list there would be national outrage.”
It is feared that, by 2025, one-third of Irish adults will be obese if the government does not take dramatic steps to address the health crisis.