Our straight talking Lancashire lass takes a sideways look at the daily news.
Do we really need a 'Fat Tax'?
Don’t you feel sometimes that we’re living in a post-modern adaptation of Robin of Sherwood? That the big bad Sherriff of Nottingham (AKA the Coalition government) is finding new and exciting ways to squeeze the population dry? I do. Because of two small words that strike fear into my food-loving heart. Fat Tax.
Fat Tax. The sound of it sounds like punishment. Say it out loud – ‘Fat Tax’. It’s an insult to the ears. It’s an assault on everyone with rounded hips, tummies and chubby cheeks. To me Fat Tax is a way of chastising those of us who delight in creamy, buttery food. Salty bacon, soft white bread, strong cheeses and lashings of wine followed by extremely strong coffee. Yes, that is basically my diet. So sue me, but don’t tax me for it.
Yet this money-grabbing ploy is in the pipeline. A 20% hike on junk or ‘unhealthy’ food and drink is planned in order to wean people off fatty grub and into a healthier lifestyle.
But I don’t believe this tax will make any significant difference. Has increasing the VAT on smoking and drinking made a dent in our lifestyles? No. Making food more expensive won’t help either. And unless this tax is accompanied with a drive to make healthy food cheaper, it’s just another Whitehall tax scam.
I was recently at a very interesting cardiology meeting (in my second guise as a medical writer) and the big issue was prevention. The global statistics for hypertension, or high blood pressure are terrifying – not least because left untreated hypertension leads to stroke and a whole host of deadly cardiovascular diseases. It is the leading cause of death from illness in the world.
Interestingly, during the meeting the general consensus was that the lifestyle-component of the solution is not scientific, it is political, and changes must be made at Food Industry level. Less salt, less fat, less preservatives, less chemicals – so when the food hits the shelves the consumers are already set to eat stuff that is less damaging.
I’m not against healthy eating, truly. I cook everything from scratch – it’s not brilliant but at least I know exactly what goes into my dinner, and it does involve loads of fresh veggies. But I also enjoy a good amount of unhealthy, stodgy glorious food.
Just look at the likes of Nigella Lawson – she practically orgasms over chocolate cake, and she looks voluptuous and healthy. Then look at Gillian McKeith, the poo-obsessed ‘Food Doctor’ who eats nothing but bean sprouts and bought her PhD off the Internet. She looks like a bale of hay. An emaciated one at that.
So in principle, I’m against this tax. I don’t believe it will work. This bungling anti-obesity drive may have a tad more credibility had the government not insisted on shutting down hundreds of local sports centres across the UK and cutting decent school dinners. It’s almost as if they want to overwhelm the already-struggling NHS with obesity-related diseases….
Fat Tax. You open a can of delicious unhealthy pop to reveal that it contains nothing but worms.