Fat tax - could you stomach it?

18 April 2011

DonnaSimpsonUnclothedSome things that come out of the good old US of A are good. Like Angelina Jolie. Or hamburgers. Other things are not so good.

Now, the state of Arizona has come up with Fat Tax, a levy of $50 (£30.60) a year for Medicaid patients who, let's say, have let themselves go a bit. An Arizonian offical said "We want to be able to provide health care to people, and we want to stretch our dollars as far as we can. Part of that is engaging people to take better care of themselves." People like 44 year old Donna M Simpson (pictured) whose weight is currently a mere stone short of her age, and who is well on the way to reaching her target weight of 72 stone, which would make her the heaviest woman alive. Or dead.

But putting this American oneup(wo)manship aside, those crafty US sorts may have come up with an alternative solution to the prospect of NHS cuts in this country. If we charged every fatty an annual fee for utilising NHS services, or maybe even only those affected by weight, we could make up some of the shortfall. We could even have a sliding scale starting at BMI of 26 (the 'official' definition of overweight).

Sounds plausible, in theory, but there are some issues that would need ironing out. For example, my own BMI might perhaps, possibly be a teeny smidge higher than 25, but I *do* have very heavy bones. And I have long hair. That's got to weigh a couple of stone at least right?

So what do you think? A fat tax for porkers? A fag tax for smokers? A fun tax for wan...

[The Sunday Times]

TOPICS:   Health

15 comments

  • Mike
    It's a good idea providing you can prove it's through eating and not a medical/genetic condition.
  • will
    this is pointless. appetite is largely controlled by a combination of genes. i have a BMI of around 22, but the guy next to me at work has one of around 28. he lives a pretty healthy life (exercises and makes good dietary choices), but just has a much stronger appetite than me. call it 'will-power' or whatever you like; ultimately something biological is different between us that drives him to eat more food. is that his fault? should he pay a tax for that? again, he makes better lifestyle choices than most of the public. i strongly agree action is needed, but surely tax the source so that everyone is treated fairly. i say tax the fat at the shops, and perhaps use this to subsidise healthier foods/gyms for the overweight. likewise, if you are overeating to get in the record-books, you should ultimately void all NHS support.
  • NB
    I agree with will- tax the high fat food. Exactly the same concept as the tax on cigarettes. Something needs to be done about the avoidable strain put on the NHS through weight. Its not an appearance issue, this is about health- being obese (not just fat) should carry the same monetary disincentives as smoking. It's not just the obvious heart problems that are the issue either. My friend works in a maternity ward, and regularly now they have to have someone in the operating room for cesaerean sections just to hold the fat back so they can get at the baby. Horrible, and completely avoidable.
  • Ole
    Also add in the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, so the BMI theory is pretty useless.... How about a simple body fat percentage scale...?
  • Big G.
    How about the government gets on with running the country and keeps its nose out of personal lifestyle choices?
  • huh
    ^^^"tax the high fat food"??! You realise that eating carbs makes you fat, and eating fat doesn't? You demonstrate exactly why this idea is retarded - You can't have the gov telling everyone that eating fat is bad, so it follows that you must eat carbs instead, then tax them because the carbs make them fat...
  • will
    @ huh: of course any carbs eaten in excess will be converted to fat. however, saying that fat doesn't make you fat? I'm hoping that's a typo! Eating any macronutrient in excess, whether carbs, protein or indeed fat will be converted to & stored as fat. I agree in that a blanket 'high fat tax' is absurd. Fatty things like salmon, seeds and nuts should obviously not be taxed. Likewise, taxing carbs, such as bread and pasta is also stupid. Generally, most luxury/indulgent food is high in 'bad' fats and have no 'good' fats at all, and would be an ideal starting place to consider taxing obesigenic foods. Unfortunately it seems that people just won't make the correct lifestyle choices. The government has made progress with the smoking campaign, and it seems overdue for it to start tackling the obesity problem before it cripples the NHS.
  • Matt M.
    Because self-inflicted fat phucks, smokers, druggies, drunks, and self-unemployed are an unneccesary drain on the NHS / public services (and of course there is other factors too, sure). Concerning this matter... There is no excuses or blame for not showing responsibility to yourself and others when you can make a choice. Too much convenience, excuses and blame going on. Not enough respect, effort and appreciation to the people who work hard to make it a better place for us all.
  • Slacker
    They're not fat, they're just big boned.
  • NB
    @huh to clarify- tax the foods that cause the fat, the unhealthy junk stuff. Just taxing fat would indeed be stupid. The point is that it would be easier to put tax on the food than to monitor people's body weight and debate when to tax them. It wouldn't be completely straightforward but could be done.
  • Milky
    I'm a bit of a porker, used to be very fit but snowboarding & mountainbiking accidents as well as smashing knees & feet,head injuries etc put paid to my lifestyle, I continued to run & jog till a bad bout of food poisoning screwed my stomach too much (now a speedbump can set my pains off, so running's definitely out) I agree to tax the real porkers clearly not looking after themselves, smoking, drinking & drugging themselves to an early grave (at great cost to the NHS in the meantime) I'm fat & i'm starting to look slim against the amount of morbid obesity we see around us (was explaining it to my 7yr old who insisted I wasn't fat, I had to explain she was viewing it as looking at "the lumps out there, not actual fitness / mass of dad" ..then she said , yes you are fat aren't you! Hooray, my kid understands the difference. My wife (a nurse in NHS) says that they are using the equivilent of engine hoists on alot of patients now, ..who are about to undergo heart surgery...hmm! My own overwight mother had several heart attacks 15yrs ago, she hasn't exactly changed her ligfestyle, & frankly it's her own bloody fault, no sympathy from me, sympathy for my daughter whose useless grandma can only sit in a chair on her fat arse & complain how tired, out of breath, can't hardly walk etc etc.. LOOK AT YOURSELF! My wife IS overweight & finds it hard to excercise (massive boobs) ..she cannot get a reduction & carry on excercising as she once did, but, the same area is doing shitloads of gastric band ops, buying fat arsehole equipment, & superheavyweight ambulances with kit to deal with the fatty-fallout, yet they deny a simpler op to someone who wants to be able to exercise, eat healthily & stay mobile. FAT CHANCE! Big tax on fatties till they shit their adult diapers & actually monitor their intake, I do it, it's a lifelong process & only gets harder to keep the weight down as you get older. it's got to start from youth. You can eat well on a limited budget, we do! Fat tax ought to apply to trans-fat filled foods or ban them outright. Less crap in ..less crap later on in life when it really matters!
  • Matt M.
    Well said Milky! :o)
  • brian
    this will lead to an increase in eating disorders and the increased cost to the nhs will offset any savings from people losing wieght. it's all rubbish to be honest. Also I think the 5-a-day thing is a conspiracy by the farming lobby to sell more fruit and veg and there is not helath benefits at all. Where's my tin foil hat gone?
  • charitynjw
    About what a tax Yoda's on? Call it we could a syntax
  • Unhealthy B.
    [...] a further and more serious step than the last week’s fat tax, a new unhealthy food tax, aiming to curb soaring rates of obesity and diabetes, should be [...]

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