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Fat tax?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Just read this while sipping my first cup of tea of the day and waking up gently:
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world
-europe-15137948

Can they be lumping extra virgin olive oil in the same category as trans-fat laden hard margarine? Also, as the article says, 'some scientists' believe there may be other items more detrimental to health, such as 'salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates'.
This is hot on the footsteps of recent higher sales taxes on soft drinks (I believe you call them sodas in the USA) in several European countries, putting them in the same tax category as alcoholic drinks.
This raises a couple of questions in my mind:
Even the scientists are not in agreement as to what foods constitute a health risk. Extra virgin olive oil is good for the heart and arteries. Butter (real butter, not marg) is good for the brain, as is fatty fish. Meat gives us the most absorbable type of heme iron. Alcohol in moderation is associated with longevity. Salt, again in moderation, is so essential to life that animals travel long distances to find salt licks, and was once so precious that the Romans were paid in salt, hence our English word salary. Tomorrow new research may find new benefits for today's villanised foods, or topple the current nutritional darlings from their pedestals. Remember how they made us afraid of eating eggs and shrimp? Remember how they urged us to eat 60% of our daily calories in carbohydrates? Both ideas gone the way of the dodo, along with other nutritional myths based in some cases on poor research design (eggs got their bad rep based on one piece of research in which the participants were fed unrealistic amounts of powdered eggs; the high iron content in spinach was a typo, a misplaced decimal point in a food list). But the myths persist, gave us Popeye the Sailor Man who guzzled spinach to get his super strength. So today's danger is saturated fat, what will tomorrow's bad guy be? Will they then remove this tax and slap it on a new bad guy?
The other concern I have is the erosion of our individual liberties by a nanny state. I'm all for labelling, and allowing the consumer to make informed choices. But I don't want my choices to be dictated by artificially inflated prices because some bureaucrats have decided for me what's good and what's not. I have low blood pressure, doctors have repeatedly told me to eat more salt. Will that be taxed soon? I feed my child red meat once a week because he is growing and needs iron. That should be taxed, according to the Danes. The childcare books I read said that children below 2 years of age should drink full-fat milk--that will be more expensive than reduced-fat milk in Denmark now. And I'm sure other countries will follow Denmark's example, because it is an easy way of justifying yet another indirect tax to aid weakening economies in these days of financial crisis. Hey, they're only doing it for our own good because we are too dumb to make wise choices ourselves.
So they break up families, take obese children away from their parents under the pretext that they are abusing them and not looking after them properly (recent case). But half the population in several developed countries is overweight or obese. Will they put fat people in prison next?
If the governments were serious about protecting our health they would ban proven killers such as cigarettes outright, instead of just taxing them. They could make mandatory built-in breathalizers in cars, that would lock them so a drunk driver cannot be a danger on the roads. They could simply prohibit manufacturers of processed foods from using harmful ingredients, additives and manufacturing processes, rather than taxing the end consumer.
But they can't tax God for putting saturated fat in meat, milk, cheese and butter. It's there for a reason, the scientists just haven't figured out why yet. And don't forget that our modern factory farming methods have made meat much fattier than when the animals walked around all day to graze. So blame the factory farmers, not God, for excessive saturated fat in our meat.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MORTICIAADDAMS
    I agree. They promote, push, and subsidize plenty of things that are not good for you as well.
    3343 days ago
  • APPLEPIEAPPLE
    I read the article as well. I agree with your blog. I also think that we began to gain more weight globally when the food industry began to add preservatives to our foods. Natural foods which we had mostly prior to 1950 kept us thinner. I can my own foods and cook my own bread, make my own yogurt, and try to eat more natural. I am trusting less and less the marvels of science since the trend is to make all our foods -non-foods. I kept eating eggs when they said they were bad for us. Man has eaten eggs for 1000's of years and did not gain the weight of recent years for eating a egg. If after eating eggs for 1000's of years we are still here, that makes more sense we can eat them and that they are healthy for us.
    3346 days ago
  • BREWMASTERBILL
    You all started down this slippery slope when taxing cigarettes. I was firmly opposed to it because this starts the path of taxing/banning everything even when the evidence is inconclusive. Obesity related deaths have outpaced cigarette smoking. So by that logic, we should start taxing/banning high calorie food. Before long, there is a "good reason" to tax/ban anything with any perceived negative consequence.

    While well intended, I think wholesale banning/taxing ultimately becomes a recipe for someone else to control your life. Also, banning does not make something unavailable. You see how well the "war on drugs" is going in the USA. Banning doesn't work. Taxing works marginally and can be horribly misapplied. So where does that leave us?
    3348 days ago
  • CAPECODBABE
    Very interesting article. I wonder if the tax will change the way people eat, and it will be interesting to see if other countries follow...
    3349 days ago
  • GOANNA2
    I completely agree. Everything that is healthy -
    low fat milk, cheese and yoghurt etc cost so
    much more. Our full fat milk here is slightly
    cheaper but I sometimes buy that as many
    specialists say it is better to have a little of the
    'real' thing such as you mentioned(butter also).

    The profit manufacturers that put so many additives
    in our food should be the ones targeted and their
    methods should be pointed to healthy alternatives.
    As for cigarettes - they should be banned, end of story.

    I haven't actually seen many fat Danes though... emoticon
    3349 days ago
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