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The Forum > Article Comments > Taxing fat does little but tax our intelligence > Comments

Taxing fat does little but tax our intelligence : Comments

By Felicity McMahon, published 4/4/2007

Consistently poor lifestyle choices cannot be solved by taxing individual foods.

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"It turns out, that even science doesn’t have the cancer-proof answer to our dieting questions..."

We don't have all the answers and probably never will, that's no reason not to act on the best information available.

"But a fat tax, would presumably apply equally to your first Big Mac - which might be OK within a balanced diet - as well as on your 10th - which we already know is bad for you."

For a single Big Max would result in minimal impact on one's health, and the tax would have a minimal impact on one's budget; it's only when excessively consumed that both will become significant, which works well.

The tax should ideally not be able controlling the public, but the money should be pumped directly into the health system ensuring that people pay for the extra cost in health support of their unhealthy lifestyle.

"Making “bad food” more expensive will not discourage us from purchasing it."

It's unlikely that a tax would cause a long term increase in price for 'bad food' as the price is effectively set by what the public will pay, rather than what it costs to produce. Again, it's not about control, but rather ensuring the 'bad food' industry cover the cost of the damage done to society.

"The taxes are just another way for a nanny state to tax the legitimate choices of members of society. "

What is wrong with taxing choices that create costs for society?

"Does it mean that any choice we make that may one day result in the development of diseases which cause us to burden the state’s health system should be taxed?"

It seems like a fairer way of paying for the health system, rather than burdening the costs of those with unhealthy lifestyles on those who sacrifice short term to be healthy.

"Tax on food is no solution to a lack of individual discipline."

Again, it's not meant to be a solution to a lack of individual discipline, but fair solution to the increasing costs of overweight people on the health system.
Posted by Desipis, Wednesday, 4 April 2007 11:16:57 AM
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We don't have to tax anything,we have standards of fuel that most of us are aware that should go into our beloved vehicles,yet we balk at food standards that will impact on the quality of life of most citizens.

I agree that big bro permeates too much of our lives,but food standards and hygiene in this country at fast food outlets are of a poor standard.There are too many fat cats,and not enough front line workers.
Posted by Arjay, Wednesday, 4 April 2007 11:23:53 PM
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There is an interesting question that arises when one seeks to define the term "food". It is not simply something that one can consume, because if it were, petrol would fall in that category. There'd be little argument that companies should not be allowed to sell petrol as a beverage. So where is the line between food and non-food? Perhaps it comes back to the capacity of a product to provide nourishment, perhaps it comes back to the level of processing and refining the product has been subjected to, perhaps something else or a combination of these. I think it's worthwhile noting, though, that currently a food such as raw milk is heavily regulated (ie not legal to be sold), despite being a natural product with potential to nourish, while content of trans-fat, a completely unnatural, damaging ingredient with no known benefit to health, is unregulated. Whether one takes a pro- or anti- regulation line, I think it needs to be acknowledged that the current arrangement is logically inconsistent. I agree with the writer, ultimately, that given our limited understanding of the complex relationships between individual foods, overall diet, psychology and lifestyle, regulation has many potential dangers, even before one takes into account the issue of individual freedoms.

Additionally, in general on the issue of such taxes, I always have trouble getting past the undue influence this would seem to have on the poor.

Finally, I think that what IS essential is regulation of marketing practices, greater separation between industry interests and science, and greater separation between industry and government. The arguments laid out by the writer rely heavily, I believe, on the consumer being well-educated and well-informed. And despite the uncertainties of science, if science can be conducted free from unfair corporate or political influence, it is not inconsistent for health authorities to make assessments of the available evidence and produce public nutritional guidelines. Nor is it inconsistent to regulate food marketing techniques in order to avoid unfair psychological conditioning of consumers. Of course, it seems we are far from this state of affairs currently.
Posted by Jordan147, Thursday, 5 April 2007 1:09:20 PM
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