How Junk Food Taxes Are Working In Hungary

In the past 18 months, the country has added an extra tax to certain packaged foods in an attempt to curb what some see as a public health crisis. 

What's the Latest Development?

Of all the European governments that have attempted to change unhealthy eating habits by taxing certain foods, Hungary has gone the furthest by imposing taxes on certain salty and sugary packaged foods. Energy drinks were also included in the tax, but manufacturers of those products changed their formulas to get around it, which was one reason why the amount of revenue generated last year was about $13 million less than expected. Other manufacturers weren't so lucky, according to food industry expert Reka Szollosi: "There was practically no consultation before [the government] decided on these taxes...[T]aking salt out of a product can have serious technical consequences."

What's the Big Idea?

High rates of obesity and salt consumption have contributed to Hungarians having one of the lowest life expectancy rates in Europe. While the taxes were welcomed by public health officials, others aren't convinced that they will make a difference. Hit hard by the economic crisis, people are buying less food in general, and Szollosi says that most are getting their salt from home-cooked food. The taxes send the wrong signal, she says: "[People] are saying to themselves, 'O.K., I don’t eat chips, I’m O.K.,' and that just isn’t true." 

Photo Credit:

Read it at The New York Times

Develop mindfulness to boost your creative intelligence

Sharon Salzberg, world-renowned mindfulness leader, teaches meditation at Big Think Edge.

Image: Big Think
Big Think Edge
  • Try meditation for the first time with this guided lesson or, if you already practice, enjoy being guided by a world-renowned meditation expert.
  • Sharon Salzberg teaches mindfulness meditation for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Google Maps apologizes for going rogue in Japan

The navigation tool has placed a school in the sea, among other things.

Strange Maps
  • Google has apologized for the sudden instability of its maps in Japan.
  • Errors may stem from Google's long-time map data provider Zenrin – or from the cancellation of its contract.
  • Speculation on the latter option caused Zenrin shares to drop 16% last Friday.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

A new theory explains Jupiter’s perplexing origin

A new computer model solves a pair of Jovian riddles.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill)
Surprising Science
  • Astronomers have wondered how a gas giant like Jupiter could sit in the middle of our solar system's planets.
  • Also unexplained has been the pair of asteroid clusters in front of and behind Jupiter in its orbit.
  • Putting the two questions together revealed the answer to both.
Keep reading Show less