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Weight Management

Reducing obesity with tax?

As far as junk food is concerned? Yes, it could possibly work…well, that’s according to a recent Reuters article.


Researchers in the US analyzed the health and diets of 5 115 people aged 18 to 30 between 1985 and 2006. When they compared food price data during this time period, a 10% increase in cost was associated with a 7% decrease in the total number of calories consumed from soda and a 12% calorie decrease from pizza.

It’s estimated that an 18% tax on junk food like soda and pizza could reduce a person’s daily intake by 56 calories. This means a potential loss of 2kgs or 5 pounds per person per year. The rest of the article can be read here…

Like alcohol and cigarettes, taxing junk food seems to have caught the attention of many governments, including the US, Australia, and even Romania. However, the whole tax proposal isn’t all sugarcoated as one might expect. There are some people who strongly oppose the idea. American union UFCW Local 1500 is just one of the groups against the so-called fat tax.

The union represents supermarket workers and it argues that some shoppers will no doubt change purchasing habits if the ‘fat tax’ is enforced. This could ultimately impact store earnings which will eventually hurt the earnings of the employees.

The airline industry is also considering a fat tax to be imposed on overweight passengers who cannot safely fit into a single seat. Even though a recent poll on travel site Skyscanner showed that 76% of people voted in favor of the tax, the issue of ‘size discrimination’ has reared its head, intensifying the argument between both sides of aisle…so to speak.

What do you think of the fat tax – is it long overdue or blatant discrimination?


  • “Taxing foods in this manner is wrong. I think the vast majority of people know that junk food everyday is life-threatening. That they elect to ignore the information is their absolute right. Government interference in food should be restricted to health guidelines for preparation and ingredients but nothing more. Secondly, healthy foods are significantly more expensive – and I suggest that this alone is the major reason that the bottom third of our Western societies eats only pre-packaged food. It is not the people on this blog that are affected – they elect to pay substantial sums of their income to buy supplpements. What can we do to change this? Probably very little as it is an economic driver but long term, education may be the answer. Starting in grade school we might educate our children as to the various risks (trans-fats, HFCS etc), that are not outright poisons and further teach them the benefits of healthy foods (fresh greens, fruit). It will take two generations but might work.”

    Murray April 23 2010

  • “In my opinion the tax is long overdue. And arguing that people have a right to eat what their want so we shouldn’t tax certain foods is wrong. We should tax everything that damages the health of its consummers – like we already taxed cigarettes and alcohol. It costs us all a lot of money to have so amny obese people in our society. We have to accomodate them by changing everything – from seats on buses to ovens in crematories. And think about the healthcare bills… Somone has to pay for all this and it’s unfortunately us. So it’s only fair to make the obese people add a bit more to the bill with this tax. If a fat person gets 2 seats for the price of one, who do you think pays for the second seat? All the other passengers… Because the ticket prices go up… We don’t protest against the alcohol tax. We don’t protest against the tobacco tax. Let’s be sensible and let the fat tax go through.”

    Pauline June 03 2010

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