What are junk foods in India

India is considering a "fat tax" on junk food

Growing wealth appears to go hand in hand with growing waistlines in India, and the world's largest democracy wants to do something about it


And the food and beverage industry is working hard to stop that.

Growing prosperity seems to have come with an increasing waistline in India, and the world's largest democracy wants to do something about it.

Over the next month, Reuters reported that India will be working out rules that will force manufacturers to display the amount of fat, sugar and salt in a particular product's packaging.

But the Indian government could go one step further and introduce a “fat tax” on junk food to stop it from being consumed.

Of course, the world's largest food and beverage companies have expressed great concern about the prospect of such a move. Currently, India's soft drinks and packaged food industry is valued at nearly $ 60 billion, and experts estimate that the carbonated drinks and packaged food sector will grow 3.7 to 8 percent annually.

When the tightened regulations come into effect, these growth projections and the value of the sectors are likely to have an impact. This explains why food and beverage giants like PepsiCo and Nestle have been meeting with trade groups in recent weeks to crack down on the regulations - and why some have viewed the tax as having more to do with economic protectionism than public health.

For example, restaurants like McDonald's and Domino's would receive a 14.5 percent tax on their products, while a local place serving the same kind of high-fat, high-salt cuisine would not.

"That makes the bigger players nervous," an industry manager told Reuters. Individuals described the junk food discourse in India as discriminatory and unscientific.

Should Prime Minister Narendra Modi approve the proposal put before him by a group of 11 bureaucrats, the Indian government plans to divert the additional revenue into the country's health budget, which currently accounts for just 1.16 percent of India's GDP.

Existing statistics explain India's recent focus on public health prioritization. According to the medical journal The lancetIndia has one of the highest obesity rates in the world and the number of people with diabetes has doubled in just over a decade. A recent World Health Organization report also found that 22 percent of children in India were obese.

The jury is not yet sure whether the tax is effective. When other nations tried to introduce a similar tax - such as Denmark in 2011 - those who wanted to avoid the tax more easily have bought cheaper (and unhealthy) options.

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