Monday, May 11, 2015

Obesity epidemic: What to do?

The current obesity epidemic is another market failure*.
Unhealthy processed foods are getting cheaper, and fruit and veg are getting more expensive.

Market failures need to be corrected.

In this case, it is perfectly obvious that Government should apply a tax on unhealthy processed foods, directing  the funds raised to reduce the price of fresh fruit and veg.

This is a no brainer.

So what's the objection?

Some say this will make the preferred diets of poor people more expensive.
Er -yes. That is the point. And their veg grow less expensive.

It does present the obese poor person with a dilemma:
Either continue consuming at the present level, making poverty worse, or reduce the amount of processed food bought.

If they reduce the amount that they consume, the reduction will have a beneficial effect on their health. If they eliminate the processed foods totally, their health will improve even more.

The objector argument then moves on to say that it is not fair to poor people to take away their comfort food. Despite the fact that said comfort eating is making them miserable and ill.

At this point, we can marvel at the strange harmony between the arguments of an group of anarcho-socialist defenders of crap diets, and the arguments of a whole slick of PR consultants working for the processed foods companies.

Clearly a tax should be applied as part of a pincer movement against obesity, the other line of treatment aimed at getting people out of their cars and into walking and cycling.

The precise level of tax can be adjusted, to discover, the optimum.
Apply it to sugar and fat, and any other identifiable ingredient.  Emulsifiers and preservatives. Start low and crank it up as necessary.

This is official Green Party policy. Unhealthy food tax, linked to fruit and veg,  in our Manifesto.

Let's see if anyone wants to come and argue against this tax or levy, either from a socialist position or from a free market position. If not, let's press it on Government, as a cure for the obesity epidemic.

*along with homelessness and empty properties, and unemployment in the presence of so much good work crying out to be done.

See also: Sugar Tax Yes or no?
Debate with a libertarian
Lansley food policy
Chocolate tax

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