A weighty issue – taxing fat people

Giles Coren had an excellent, presumably slightly tongue-in-cheek, documentary on More4 last night, in which he suggested that fat people should be taxed, in order to fund the increase in health services needed to deal with obesity.

Coren came up with a formula to calculate the fat tax: the square root of an individual’s body mass index, divided by 100, with the result multiplied by their tax liability. Someone with a BMI of 36 and a tax liability of £10,000 would have to pay a fat tax of £600. Unsurprisingly, he got pretty short shrift from the UK Minister for Health although he did succeed in getting a Tory to table a question on the issue in the House of Commons.

Maybe it’s just because I always like Giles Coren but I found myself being persuaded. I’d sure as hell lose weight if I thought Revenue would chase me for €500 or €1,000 because I’d been at the pies.

Meanwhile, two new books in the US argue that the obesity epidemic there is nothing as bad as the media hype suggests, according to a review in Reason magazine.

“In fact, the death rate among chubby (but not obese) people…was lower than the death rate among thin (but not underweight) people, to the tune of 86,000 fewer deaths a year. Which makes you wonder exactly what it means to be ‘overweight’ and why we should be worried about it.”


2 responses to “A weighty issue – taxing fat people

  1. This is an excellent idea. As Coren pointed out, cigarettes and alcohol are taxed as overuse of them causes health problems in the long term. It makes perfect sense that those who choose not to control their consumption of unhealthy foods should pay. The softly-softly, let’s not get anyone upset attitude that has established itself is an ostrich approach to a global problem.
    Let’s all get our heads out and lobby for this tax to be implemented.

  2. Taxing people based on their appearance is abhorrent, evil and the worst kind of abuse of government power. Those who think fat PEOPLE ought to be taxed (rather than, say, a tax on fatty foods) appear to be confusing lifestyle with appearance. You cannot tell what someone’s lifestyle is like by their appearance, despite what the popularity of the fat=lazy=gluttonous stereotype leads people to believe.

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