The talk of introducing a fat tax on unhealthy food is back in the news today, with the Guardian reporting about it – (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/16/fat-tax-unhealthy-food-effect?newsfeed=true).
Obesity is at an all time high, with no signs of slowing down. Given the rise of cancers, heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses caused by obesity, the burden on the NHS is monstrous, and I’m not surprised the Government are thinking about imposing a ‘Fat Tax’ – something has to be done to tackle this.
However, is a fat tax the right way to go about it? The tax itself has to be high enough to deter the consumer. If the tax is imposed on saturated fats, and people replace them with sugar and carbohydrates (such as those found in low fat processed ready meals), then the tax will be defeating the object as these are just as detrimental to ones health, leading to a negative effect on health.
I do think that unhealthy foods should be made to be more expensive. You can’t go down a high-street without seeing a deal in a fast food place such as ‘family sized fried chicken, with chips and a coke for fiver’ and this is outrageous. Why can’t you get healthy food on the cheap? This brings me to my next point – if the fat tax goes ahead, subsidies should be made towards healthy, better quality, real whole foods, encouraging their consumption. All of this goes hand in hand with education. Educate people about the negative effects of white sugar, refined and processed foods. A fat tax in itself in my opinion will not reduce obesity rates on it’s own. In previous times food was rationed, people had to think about what they ate, meals were cooked from scratch and more than likely families would sit down together for their meals. This has changed significantly – food is everywhere – from fast food outlets to the abundance of ready meals in supermarkets. Encouraging a change in people’s way of lives and how they think about food and what they feed their families will be key to achieving success in the obesity war – a fat tax alone won’t solve that, but surely it’s a step in the right direction and worth a shot?