fat belly and tape measure

The government is currently under more pressure than ever to reduce obesity, after latest figures have revealed that obesity related problems such as diabetes are now costing an average of 2 – 6% of overall healthcare costs. Further projections show that the expectation of national obesity levels is expected to increase from 25% to 40% by 2030, which will increase the spending on obesity related problems by an additional 2% (equivalent to around £2 billion). The biggest costs come from expensive treatments including weight loss drugs and surgeries.

Typically, as what seems to a standard response by the government, they are proposing taxing certain types of food so that unhealthy foods become more expensive (this has been labelled as the fat tax) in order to deter people from buying them. I have many issues with this mindset of taxing everything, but I think there are 2 core issues that need to be addressed:

1. If you increase tax on unhealthy foods, you should reduce the tax on healthy foods
Sounds fair, right? If you’re going to increase the tax on unhealthy foods to deter people from buying them, then surely reducing the tax on healthy foods should be done to keep the balance and encourage people to buy healthy foods.

2. This doesn’t address why people are obese
What are the main causes of obesity? Is is it simply that they are eating unhealthy foods? Probably not. Lifestyle changes and education are needed to help people lead healthier lives. Simply taxing certain foods isn’t going to address the real cause of the obesity epidemic.

I really could go on about this all day. As always, I’m very interested in hearing what everyone else thinks about this, so please feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts, and maybe even suggestions of what the government should be doing to address the problem.