A New Study
It was recently disclosed on Wednesday by Oxford University researchers that a new tax on red and processed meat could lead to hundreds of billions of dollars that could be used for healthcare purposes. This group of researchers released a new study which suggests that the revenue generated from this new tax would not only help counteract the increasing healthcare costs but also prevent 220,000 deaths a year globally. It is reported that amongst the 220,000 projected deaths, 53,000 would be in the U.S.
Methodology and Projected Results
The researchers performed an in-depth statistical analysis of the optimal taxation of red and processed meat in an extensive list of nearly 150 countries, and they concluded that in developed countries, the prices of red meat would need to be increased by over 20 percent whereas processed meat would have to at least double in price. It was found that the proposed increases in taxes were higher in countries that eat a lot of red and processed meat, e.g. the US, Australia, and Britain, while it would be near zero in poor countries where people do not eat a lot of meat. With these suggested tax increases, there would be an estimated $172 billion annual fund that could be used to cover healthcare costs. It is further estimated that this amount could cover 70 percent of the health care costs associated with the consumption of red and processed meats. It was calculated that the current price on both types of products would need to double in order to fully cover the associated healthcare costs.
These researchers found that by 2020, nearly 2.4 million deaths will be associated with the consumption of these products with a subsequent healthcare bill of $285 billion. It would lead to a drastic reduction in obesity rates across the world, as their dietary choices would most likely be positively influenced.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that beef, lamb, and pork products are cancerous when processed, such as sausages, bacon, and beef jerky. They were furthermore linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes. The researchers suggest that the tax would also lead to a decrease in the consumption of these products, which would have a subsequent beneficial effect on climate change. It is estimated that the decreased consumption of these meat products would lead to a subsequent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering 100 million tons.
The main premise of the study and its conclusions are based on the fact that there are already taxes in place for other products that are linked to negative health, including tobacco, alcohol, and sugar. Despite the evidence suggested in this new study, opinions on this tax proposal have been divided. Some health professionals have pointed to the fact that meat consumption is already declining and that there are health benefits to consuming red meat. Similarly, proponents who are against the tax also point to the difficulty of implementing such a policy given the different laws in various countries. Even so, this research has pointed to the fact that are several reasons to support this new proposed tax. Many health professionals who are in support of this new policy understand that its implementation in isolation is not enough; they suggest supplemental ideas to launch public education initiatives. The health benefits that would result as projected in this new study need to be complemented with holistic changes in the general public’s understanding of health, informing them of the reasoning behind this drastic suggestion.