Discussion

Implement measures to reduce obesity in developed nations

Research published ion BMC Public Health showing that increasing levels of obesity could eventually have the same impact on the world’s resources as an extra billion people – if everyone attempted to reach US levels of consumption of food. Professor Ian Roberts, one of the authors of the research argues "When people think about environmental sustainability, they immediately focus on population. Actually, when it comes down to it - it's not how many mouths there are to feed, it’s how much flesh there is on the planet." This report therefore focuses problems of environmental sustainability on countries with an increasingly fat population rather than those with rapidly rising populations. This inevitably leads to questions of how to prevent obesity from increasing and the resulting extra consumption. One of the ideas that have been proposed has been a Fat Tax on items high in saturated fats, salt and sugar.

Does anyone have any other ideas for reducing obesity in the developed world or to prevent it from becoming a problem in those that are still developing?

Debatabase debate: This House would implement a fat tax. http://idebate.org/debatabase/debates/health/house-would-implement-fat-tax

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18462985

http://royalsociety.org/news/iap-population-consumption/

If it ever became too much of a problem for the planets resources then rationing would work!

More seriously I am not sure that a fat tax would actually reduce consumption by much. Food is a small part of most western consumers spending so increasing that a bit is either likely not to affect them at all or force consumers onto lower quality and cheaper food. For those who are richer they can always simply eat out less in order to eat the same amount. The fat tax is therefore a good way of getting money to tackle the health problems of obesity but it wont help with environmental sustainability.

 

Even though their should be measures to reduce obesity, implementing a “fat tax” is not the best solution. Governments for example, should promote the use of bicycles and vehicles that require physical activity. This would not only contribute to the reduction of overall obesity, but it will also help diminish traffic in the big cities. In a city, implementing an extra tax for the use of cars would be more effective than implementing a fat tax, since it is better for people to lose weight by exercising than by drastically changing their diets. Governments also need to take into account that the people with a very low income,will not be able to purchase the products if the prices go even higher. Taxes are helpful to prevent the consumption of unnecessary things like alcohol or cigarettes, but food is essential in order for a person to live, therefore raising the price of a necessity may bring further complications like starvation. Nevertheless, according to the Daily Mail, if taxes on smoking and drinking do not change the behavior of nicotine and alcohol, a tax on fat foods will not prevent obesity. Everyday their are more obese people, and a measure needs to be implemented in order to stop this, but introducing a fat tax is not the best way. 

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2045437/Why-fat-tax-effect-obesity-levels.html

 

Edited by moderator.

Lorenzo Munoz wrote:
Even though their should be measures to reduce obesity, implementing a “fat tax” is not the best solution. Governments for example, should promote the use of bicycles and vehicles that require physical activity. This would not only contribute to the reduction of overall obesity, but it will also help diminish traffic in the big cities. In a city, implementing an extra tax for the use of cars would be more effective than implementing a fat tax, since it is better for people to lose weight by exercising than by drastically changing their diets.

I agree with you Lorenzo, fat tax isn't the answer.  Obesity is all about how a person discipline one's self. If the government wants to reduce the number of obese people, then like you, I would also suggest physical activities. The use of bicycles is good. Aside from developing one's physical and emotional health, it is also eco-friendly.

 

I do echo the earlier sentiments that the fat tax isn't the cure to this problem, but it should be implemented anyways. As the emphasis for the fat tax are items high in saturated fats, salts and sugar (junk food and processed goods come to mind), I don't think that it would as adversely affect the low income group, but the impact would still be there.

I agree however that a sudden drastic change in diet isn't the way. I'm thinking something along the lines of making the use of transportation like buses, cars and the like a bit more physical, perhaps have car parks further away from offices or something to that effect, but that wouldn't be really feasible. 

Perhaps, it would be time to force companies to have "PE" time like they did in school ? Don't take me too seriously, I'm just throwing it out there, because from what I see, the cause for obesity is a sedentary lifesyle and the lack of drive to choose the right foods, but by making sure that the ideas of a healthy lifestyle are consistently ingrained into them, even after school or university levels as in this day and age, any good message is worth repeating.

What do you think ?

Mohamad Haziq wrote:

from what I see, the cause for obesity is a sedentary lifesyle and the lack of drive to choose the right foods...

According to the BBC a recent study suggests that we are getting fat as a result of over eating rather than being inactive. The metabolic rate of hunter gatherers is no different to westerners when corrected for hight and weight. According to Dr Pontzer who took part in the study "This to me says that the big reason that Westerners are getting fat is because we eat too much - it's not because we exercise too little... Being active is really important to your health but it won't keep you thin - we need to eat less to do that. Daily energy expenditure might be an evolved trait that has been shaped by evolution and is common among all people and not some simple reflection of our diverse lifestyles."

None the less best to exercise too!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18985141

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0040503

Alex Helling wrote:

Mohamad Haziq wrote:

from what I see, the cause for obesity is a sedentary lifesyle and the lack of drive to choose the right foods...

According to the BBC a recent study suggests that we are getting fat as a result of over eating rather than being inactive. The metabolic rate of hunter gatherers is no different to westerners when corrected for hight and weight. According to Dr Pontzer who took part in the study "This to me says that the big reason that Westerners are getting fat is because we eat too much - it's not because we exercise too little... Being active is really important to your health but it won't keep you thin - we need to eat less to do that. Daily energy expenditure might be an evolved trait that has been shaped by evolution and is common among all people and not some simple reflection of our diverse lifestyles."

None the less best to exercise too!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18985141

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0040503

Well then, I think it's time for a socialist meal systems where the organization serves you the best for you (joking).

But really, with increased incomes and easier access to fattening foods, how best do we actually engage the problem with eating. Could we have a subsidy for healthier foods (as they are, if I'm not mistaken, more expensive than fattening products such as fast food). It's high time scientists created healthy food that tasted like burgers. 

Besides, the law of supply and demand will most certainly overweigh (pun intended) any sort of restrictions the government may attempt to put in place to restrict the amount of fast food joints . We've bombarded people with the negatives of unhealthy living for ages and it still doesn't work out. 

Mohamad Haziq wrote:

Could we have a subsidy for healthier foods (as they are, if I'm not mistaken, more expensive than fattening products such as fast food).

Normally it is suggested the other way around - tax the unhealthy food to make it more expensive rather than subsidise the healthy to make it cheaper than the unhealthy food. And indeed this is what the debatabase debate mentioned in the introduction is about. 

And to a certain extent we already do - in the UK for example most food is untaxed but some unhealthy food such as crisps is taxed at the usual VAT rate of 20%.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/forms-rates/rates/goods-services.htm

Mohamad Haziq wrote:

 It's high time scientists created healthy food that tasted like burgers. 

A lot would depend on whether people would eat them! Also we should remember that burgers are not automatically unhealty; in moderation as part of a balanced diet they are good for you. Rather what is needed here is some way of controling portions (which would be bringing back in your socialist state!)

Well, is there a way to restrict supply then ? I believe we can't really manage to really control the demand for those goods unless we were going to adopt a more socialist approach, which isn't really affecting demand but more like directly affecting what is served. 

Would a tax on every ingredient that has an unhealthy amount put in be any good ?

I am not sure about the tax on ingredients as whether the food they make is unhealthy or not depends how they are used. With the exception of chemicals I imagine that most things can be good or are in some way necessary. And frankly those thinks that are flat out bad like trans-fats we would probably be better off banning than taxing.

I am more interested in your suggestion of restricting supply. Obviously unless someone invents some way of making people not feel hungary after they have eaten a certain amount then restricting the supply for everyone is impractical. There could however be steps taken towards it; resturants could be restricted to a certain amount of calories per customer for example. It would not stop the customer from going and getting another meal somewhere else but would probably persuade them not to!

Rationing is not totally unprecedented; During both world wars and in the post war period in Europe everyone was rationed with only a certain allocation of food and other goods. If it has been done before the age of computers and electronic ID it could certainly be done now. Any system today would be much more flexible and broader as it would not just give allocations of a certain product but would allow you to get whatever you want within your calorie allocation. Cant see anyone ever considering it though!

All of these ideas are fundamentally anti market and anti freedom. The market should be free to provide whatever food consumers want to eat and drink and the everyone should be free to consume what they want.This is NOT an area for government to be meddling in. Individuals can look after themselves and are responsible for themselves. Rationing, fat taxes, soda taxes, banning certain ingredients are all policies that restrict peoples freedoms and so are wrong. The government should stay out of citizens' lives unless it is absolutely necessary and in this case it is not!

Hope this link will be http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1681377/ useful.

Everybody should aware whether they are obese or not. Use this Height and Weight chart to check if you're the right weight for your height.

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