Join a gym or pay fat tax: Facebook reacts to obesity idea
UPDATE: A LENNOX Head gym owner's idea to offer tax breaks to the fit and healthy and impose sugar and fat taxes on junk food seems to have struck a sensitive nerve on The Northern Star's Facebook page.
Posters on the social media site have been largely scathing of the idea, with a few exceptions.
Louise Foster wrote "I'm on medication that has side effects including weigh gain. Does this mean I should be taxed? I can't help being sick and needing these meds."
Lisa Thompson labelled the idea "absolutely ridiculous", arguing we should be taxed "only on our income", while
Dennis Pickford predicted the policy might force people to "join a gym or pay your fat tax".
Kim Andrews wrote that "those struggling with weight issues don't need to be penalised for it, they need the proper support to help change their lives for the better. Let's start looking at more ways to get people into fitness, NOT discourage those who need it the most."
Others gave some support to the general thrust of the idea, with Mat Newell suggesting "tax deductions for gym fees and other costs associated with living a healthy lifestyle" as an option.
Stewart Dodd noted that the government already taxed smokers through higher cigarette prices, "so why not tax junk food/sugar addicts".
But Rhett Patrick said the obesity scourge might be tackled first with tougher packaging laws: "Look at all the low fat products out there with the heart foundation tick of approval that have more sugar in them then a can of coke! Fat people don't want to be fat they just need the right advice."
INITIAL REPORT: A LENNOX Head gym owner says the government should offer tax breaks for the healthy and impose fat and sugar taxes to fight growing obesity levels.
Personal trainer David Westaway, from Surfit gym, admitted the idea was a divisive one.
The strategy would involve similar price signals used to combat smoking alongside a kind of inverse carbon tax with incentives for people who didn't pollute their bodies.
"If you've got your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight under control, there needs to be some kind of financial reward for it," Mr Westaway said. "If you can't get it together yourself, rather than tax you for being overweight, give financial incentives for people who can.
"It's becoming a problem for our economy."
The cost of obesity to the Australian economy was calculated at more than $56 billion in 2008 and rising fast.
Obesity has also overtaken smoking as the biggest national killer in recent years.
Mr Westaway said insurance companies should adopt similar strategies by offering lower premiums to those who passed health checks.
"If you look after yourself, you're costing the insurance company next to nothing."
He also agreed with the idea of a sugar tax, and not just on junk foods, because sugar hid in many "health foods" too.
A spokesman from the Australian Food and Grocery Council said fat and sugar taxes had been "extensively examined both internationally in Australia" and had proven unsuccessful.
In Denmark a fat tax was axed after 12 months because people were simply crossing the border to buy their favourite junk foods.