A group of NHS doctors and health professionals have signed an open letter to the UK government asking for a tax on unhealthy food, including junk food, meat and dairy products.
The collective of doctors has also asked for plant-based foods to be subsidised.
According to reports, over two-thirds of adults in the UK are overweight or obese. The recent studies have also shown that patients with diet-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are at an increased risk of dying from COVID-19.
The doctors developed proposals to rebuild the UK’s ‘unfair, unhealthy and unsustainable’ food system after the pandemic.
The proposed legislation includes a new tax on food products high in salt and fat, a tax on food derived from animal agriculture and subsidies for plant-based diets. The group also wants the public sector catering to stop serving processed meat in schools and hospitals.
“This is really urgent,” said Dr Shireen Kassam, the leader of the group.
“80% of chronic illnesses are directly related to diet and lifestyle and one-in-five deaths in the UK are caused by unhealthy diets, which is one high in processed foods and animal foods.”
“The current pandemic has shown the vulnerability of the population’s health. We have been at crisis point for a long time, probably nearly a decade” she said.
“I have seen no solutions the government is providing. We want to know what the UK is doing to address our unfair, unhealthy and unsustainable food system.”
Dr Kassam says that 80 per cent of chronic diseases can be prevented “by addressing the social and lifestyle determinants of health.”
In the open letter, the doctors wrote: “It is not acceptable that the NHS is collapsing under the burden of chronic diseases, the majority of which could be prevented and treated by addressing diet and lifestyle factors.”
“We are willing to take on the task of shifting the NHS focus from a reactive healthcare system to one that promotes health and prevents chronic illness.”
“However, this action needs to be fully embraced by NHS leaders and the government, who should now place the nation’s long-term health at the centre of their policy.”