Monday, October 3, 2011

Fat Tax? - Fat Chance!

If you haven't heard by now, the government of Denmark has enacted legislation to TAX foods based on their level of unsaturated fat, under the theory that if it costs more people are less likely to eat it.  Fat Chance!  Minor increases in the cost of unhealthy food (as defined by the Government) is probably not going to have a lot of effect on the ingrained habits of the masses.

Let's see, a typical burger will go up by $0.15 while a small package of butter gets hit with a tax of about $0.40.  Really?  A Big Mac at McDonald's cost a lot more than a basic burger, and has far more calories and fat, yet it remains the top-selling product.  No fat tax there, but definitely a higher price for a less healthy food item - see what a difference it makes... NOT!

Just look at the amount of tax that has been added to cigarettes (in the US) over the past 20 years.  In 1970, a pack cost about $0.38, whereas today its in the $5.00 range, with most of the increase being taxes.  Studies show that the higher tax actually has led to fewer people smoking, however it took a fairly large increase to make a dent.  The so-called Fat Tax in Denmark has a long way to go before it really starts to cause financial pain.

At the end of the day, I have a lot of heartburn with the Government trying to control what I eat by taxing what they perceive to be bad.  For those of us who have lost weight and maintained that loss for multiple years, its safe to say that Government intrusion had nothing to do with our success.  It all starts with what you want to do.  No amount of pressure from friends and family, warnings by Doctors, messages from the media, etc will make a difference if you aren't committed to yourself.  All those external influences can certainly get your attention, but it takes a strong desire on your part to make it happen.

I figured out on my own how to eat what I like while controlling the affect on my body mass.  Creative things like substituting unhealthy food ingredients with alternative ingredients that provide rich taste without all the nasty stuff can go a long way in controlling what enters your body.  But it doesn't take a fat tax to make it happen, just the ability to read the labels and explore the Internet for new recipes.

So will a Fat Tax make people less Fat?  Fat Chance!


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