Eight out of ten Portuguese consider that the Government should intervene to promote healthier eating habits and most strongly support the extension of measures such as sugar reduction in some foods.
According to the Second Great Survey on Sustainability, controlling school meals, reducing unhealthy offerings, promoting organic farming and reducing food waste are some of the areas in which the Portuguese advocate public policy.
Juices, cakes, chocolates and sweets, sauces, flavoured milks, cereals and flavoured waters are among the most chosen products to also be subject to sugar taxation, although juices and typical pastries traditionally associated with sugar (cakes, chocolates and sweets) are a high priority.
According to the study, from the mainland Mission (Grupo Sonae) and Institute of Social Sciences (ICS) of the University of Lisbon, the extension of this type of tax to other food products is supported by almost half of respondents (47.7 percent), while 23 percent are hesitant but would not refuse the measures.
Concerning the position on the measures already in force which apply a rate related to the sugar content of soft drinks, the levels of disagreement are lower (around 15 percent), “which shows that citizens want greater regulation in the area and to reduce the sugar content of the products available” the researchers write.
The Portuguese are very open to intervention in school meals through public policies and the most supported measures are the encouragement of free distribution of fruit, the creation of food produced with products from the region, as well as organic farming products.
They also argue for a ban on the use of disposable plastic at school meals.
According to the data collected, when asked who is primarily responsible for health and food safety, the Portuguese attach a heavy weight to the central state, in particular the Ministries of Health, Environment and Agriculture, as well as the Authority for Food and Economic Security (ASAE), the main food safety regulator.
The researcher of the Institute of Social Sciences Luísa Schmidt, one of the coordinators of this study, underlines, in a statement to Lusa, the duplicity of feelings of the Portuguese regarding the State: “People need the state and realise it’s fundamental to them, but they want it to be reliable and meritorious.”
The researcher also said that the data indicates that the Portuguese “are particularly attentive to all that have ethically less responsible attitudes and less transparent and effective public policies.”