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Irish Greens Call for Tax on Junk Foods

July 22, 2002

Green Party calls for more greens and a tax on junk food
By Patsy McGarry

The Green Party has called for a tax on junk food and for free fruit
and vegetables to be distributed to children at school.

The party's leader, Mr Trevor Sargent TD, said last night the consumption of
junk food was "sentencing people to ill-health" and cost the Exchequer
millions of euro every year.

Backing a proposal from the Irish Heart Foundation, he said that, as the
Government argued that revenue from alcohol and tobacco taxes was necessary
to help treat the damaging effects on the health of society, junk food
should be taxed in the same way.

He said he was not proposing "a tax on treats" where children were
concerned, as such food was almost a staple with many children.

"If it remained only a treat there would be no cause for concern," he said.

"Relying on processed foods which are especially high in fat and sugar is
similar to over-consumption of alcohol in its long-term effects," he said.

Studies had shown that it led to the detection of early signs of heart
disease in young children, he said.

Supporting a proposal from the Irish Heart Foundation that free fruit and
vegetables be given to children at school, he said raw carrots or apples
grown in Ireland, for example, would not only improve health but offer some
level of meaningful support to Irish growers, organic or not, who faced
bleak futures if they stayed in horticulture, with adverse weather
conditions and unviably low prices from supermarkets for their produce.

He said radical measures were needed to restore a healthy lifestyle and diet
to Irish people, especially children, who were storing up expensive health
problems for themselves and the "crippled" health service in future years.

A recent World Health Organisation report ranked Ireland 36th of 47
countries where heart disease and general health were concerned. Heart
disease kills 12,000 people a year, while a further 10,000 suffer strokes.


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