by Meagan Morrow
It was said in a study done by Monash University, 17 million Australians are overweight or obese, 4 million being obese. That is a very large percentage of the 22 million alone in Australia, over 75% being overweight. It has even taken over as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia.
In response to this epidemic, some have suggested that there be a “fat tax” on fast food and junk food. This was presented after Demark imposed a similar tax. (Sacks) This is supposed to encourage people to lose weight. From the understanding of the economists, price incentives have an effect on society. (Irvine) In another blog on News Network, is was stated “Instead of getting off their fat bottoms and taking control of their own lives, they want the government to take care of it.” It makes them feel better about themselves, if they don’t have to be responsible for their own lack of will power. If the government continues to take control over every bit of the lives of its citizens, what will be left in the end? It’s sad how lazy people have gotten. Giving up freedoms little by little will give too much control to the government.
Another question arose in discussion with an Australian couple, where will the money from the tax go? If it goes into the health care system to help aid those that struggle with diabetes and other health issues that are brought about by obesity that would be extremely beneficial. But if it just goes into the general funds and is not used properly, what is the point? Making people take responsibility for their actions and indirectly pay for their own health care could be useful and encouraging to the economy. On the other hand, trying to force people to change their habits is not in the job description of the government.
Just because it costs more money doesn’t mean that people will stop. The cost and convenience of fast food would very possibly still outweigh that of healthy foods. (Irvine) But many people think the fat tax is a great idea. Marianne Betts stated that 70% of Australians surveyed about the “fat tax” “support an increase in junk food prices and a decrease in healthy food prices, according to a survey by the Obesity Policy Coalition.” (Betts)
The article, noted above, in the Herald Sun stated that this tax would be combined with “subsidies on healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables.” This would increase the likelihood that people would buy healthier foods because of the cost, but the usefulness of pre-made or pre-prepared food is still there.
Health does not just directly relate to food either. “Half of Australian parents are concerned about their kids not getting enough exercise. “ (Betts) It might take more than just a tax on junk food to bring about change. Education about healthy foods, including where and how to get them for good pricing, and how to cook them in a manner which is less of a burden is important to any society that struggles with health issues. (Irvine) Australia is not the only country or culture struggling with this. It is a world wide issue and many different approaches have been taken. Australia’s attempt to follow in Demark’s footsteps could be a chance to begin the fight against obesity, but it will not end there.
Betts, Marianne . (2012). Aussies support tax on junk food.. Available: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/aussies-support-fat-tax/story-fn7x8me2-1226358271940. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.
Irvine, Jessica. (2012). Would a Fat Tax Curb Obesity?. Available: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/would-a-fat-tax-curb-obesity3f/4144548. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.
Kenny, Chris. (2012). My great big fat tax. Available: http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/goodlyfabric/index.php/theaustralian/comments/my_great_big_fat_tax/. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.
Sacks, Gary. (2011). Is a ‘fat tax’ the answer to Australia’s obesity crisis?. Available: http://theconversation.edu.au/is-a-fat-tax-the-answer-to-australias-obesity-crisis-3712. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.
Unknown. (2012). Obesity in Australia. Available: http://www.modi.monash.edu.au/obesity-facts-figures/obesity-in-australia/. Last accessed 22nd Aug 2012.