Hungarian food tax changes consumption patterns

Adoption of the Public Health Food Tax (NETA) in Hungary in 2011 has had a positive impact on food consumption patterns. This was one of the conclusions of  a health and financial impact assessment report presented to the media and public on 10 April 2013 at a school in Budapest, Hungary. The NETA assessment was conducted by the National Institute for Health Development in cooperation with the National Institute for Food and Nutrition Science and WHO experts as part of the biannual collaborative agreement 2012–2013 between WHO/Europe and Hungary.

Launch of the assessment report

Students of the primary school in Csata street in Budapest welcomed journalists with an unexpected flashmob action, in which dozens of pupils poured out sweetened soft drinks and trampled on the empty bottles. They then clinked glasses with tap water and drank heartily. The students also built blocks from sugar cubes which matched the sugar content of soft drinks and packed sweets. The primary school in Csata street in Budapest is one of the schools in the city that sell only healthy food and beverages to students.

The event received wide media coverage and was followed by a press conference during which Dr Zsofia Pusztai, Head of the WHO Country Office in Hungary, presented international experiences with innovative financing mechanisms that promote public health and healthy behaviour. Promoting healthy consumption via fiscal and marketing policies is one of the recommendations contained in the WHO/Europe Action Plan for implementation of the European Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2012–2016. Directors of the two national institutes responsible for the assessment, Dr Zoltan Voko and Dr Eva Martos, talked about the effects of the tax observed so far in Hungary.