Health Minister Zane De Silva says the only way to keep rising healthcare costs in check is to change our eating end exercise habits. <em>*Creative Commons photo</em><br />
Health Minister Zane De Silva says the only way to keep rising healthcare costs in check is to change our eating end exercise habits. *Creative Commons photo

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 29: If Health Minister Zane De Silva had his way, he would take taxes on junk food “through the roof”.

The Minister has been beating the drum for islanders to eat healthy and exercise for a long time. A Prevention Task Group will help implement a ‘Well Bermuda Strategy’, he said.

“Long term, the only way to keep our rising healthcare costs in check is to change our eating end exercise habits”, Mr DeSilva added. “We must strive for healthy people, healthy families, living in healthy communities.”

Asked about a junk food tax, Mr De Silva said: “If I had my way, I’d make the tax three-four-hundred per cent for junk foods that aren’t good for us. Things like mayonnaise and deep fried foods.

“I’d love to see the tax increased (on junk food). I know we increased it on cigarettes, but it’s not something I’m adverse to. It’s something I’d like see raised on junk food — take them through the roof as far as I’m concerned.

“We have the highest rate of diabetes in the OECD. The rate that we’re on is certainly unsustainable that’s why our people… have been working really hard with health promotions.”

He said the insurance companies have been doing a good job in promoting residents to exercise and eat properly.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the insurance companies, because all the insurance companies, in one way or another, are promoting healthy lifestyles and they are to be commended as well.”

In 2009, both Argus and BF&M were against the idea of a junk food tax.

They both preferred education as a way to get the message across about avoiding junk foods rather than through a punitive tax measure.

What do you think? E-mail feedback to Don Burgess: dburgess@bermudasun.bm or leave a comment below.