News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 

Needed: One Billion Dollars to Fight Fat

Media Release
23 August 2004

Needed: One Billion Dollars to Fight Fat

A report released today by Diabetes New Zealand (DNZ) and Fight the Obesity Epidemic (FOE) shows that a Fat Tax is viable and justifiable.

The report titled “Cutting the Fat: How a fat tax can help fight obesity” outlines the principles and practicalities of implementing such a tax and concludes two taxes are required – one for fat and the other for soft drinks, snack foods and other “energy dense/nutrient poor” foods.

“A fat tax is the only way to make a significant impact on obesity rates in New Zealand” says Dr Robyn Toomath, FOE spokeswoman. “Public health education strategies have their place, as outlined in the recent Ministry of Health HEHA (Healthy Eating, Healthy Action) report, but these strategies alone are not going to be sufficient to reduce the rate of obesity.”

“Regulatory changes are also required, such as those proposed by FOE and DNZ recommending to the Ministry of Health that the revision of the 1956 Public Health Act restricts advertising on television and the sale of inappropriate foods and drink to children in schools.

Legislation and taxation acting together would provide the far reaching change that is required to reduce obesity. We have seen the success of these strategies on the sales of alcohol and cigarettes. This report indicates that a fat tax has great potential as a tool to limit the obesity epidemic.

“A Fat Tax is not difficult to justify” says Dr Toomath. “Firstly, the money raised can be thought of as partially offsetting the cost to society resulting from obesity. The money collected could be directed to vote health and spending targeted to cover the costs of conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnoea treatment, knee replacements and heart disease. To completely offset costs the report suggests a figure of one billion dollars a year is necessary - approximately $5.00 per person per week. An alternative way of spending the money collected is to allocate it to prevention programmes for diabetes and obesity in the way that some of the revenue from alcohol taxation is given to the LTSA, or funding from petrol taxes and vehicle licensing is given to ACC.”

“There is good evidence from cigarette smoking, that increases in the cost of some food is likely to be a reliable way of influencing food choices choice. How big the price change would need to be in order to change behaviour has yet to be determined, but it may well be that children and adolescents are more sensitive to these effects because of their limited access to money” says Dr Toomath.

Finally, the report suggests that even if consumers prove not to be too price sensitive, that food producers will be.

“If food can be manufactured in a way that brings it just under the cut-off for a penalty payment then you can guarantee that taxation will bring about change in this way. We know that there is huge potential for reducing the consumption of calories by imperceptible changes in cooking practice” says Dr Toomath.

Dr Toomath said that the report is a valuable resource indicating that it’s time a fat tax appeared on the agenda if we are to seriously tackle the obesity and diabetes epidemics.

The report was prepared by Jim Sinner and Sky Davies from the Ecologic Foundation.

The full report is available on www.foe.org.nz or www.diabetes.org.nz.


About the Ecological Foundation

The Ecologic Foundation is a "think tank" dedicated to promoting sustainable development through policy analysis, research, communication and consultancy. Its focus is on working toward solutions to environmental problems that integrate environmental, economic and ethical factors, rather than promoting one aspect at the expense of others.

Jim Sinner, a resource economist, is a Senior Fellow at Ecologic - where he leads a research programme on Institutions for Sustainable Development, funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. His current research interests include the use of tradeable permits and other economic incentives for water allocation and water quality, local air pollution and fisheries.

Sky Davies was a research assistant at Ecologic during the first half of 2004. She is a recent graduate of Lincoln University, and has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia. She has been awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship for study at Oxford University, starting in September 2004.


- Released on behalf of Diabetes New Zealand by Network PR Helen Flannery.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Howard Davis Review: From Free Press to Fancy Dress - Spielberg's The Post

Stephen Spielberg's The Post is an opportune newsroom drama in which a corrupt Republican president wages war against the "liberal media," as its plucky proprietor risks economic and legal ruin to bring the Pentagon Papers to public light. Its true protagonist is publisher Katharine Graham, a stringently diplomatic businesswoman, reluctantly compelled to take an overtly political stance in the interests of democracy and freedom of the press. More>>



Howard Davis Review: The Black Dog of Empire - Joe Wright's Darkest Hour'

On the eve of England's contorted efforts to negotiate its ignominious retreat from Europe and the chaotic spectacle of the Tory party ratifying its undignified departure from a union originally designed to prevent another World War, there has been a renewed appetite for movies about 1940. More>>



Howard Davis Review: Anger Begets Anger - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

For fans of what Ricky Gervais termed "number movies" (Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven, Ocean's 11, Se7en), Martin McDonagh's latest offering will be a welcome addition to the roster. The Irish playwright turned screenwriter and director has produced another quirky and darkly comic tragedy that evolves around the futility of anger and grief, retribution and revenge. More>>

Howard Davis: Sexting in George Dawe's Genevieve - Part I

Te Papa's permanent collection includes an enormous oil painting by the English artist George Dawe called Genevieve (from by a poem by S.T. Coleridge entitled 'Love') that was prominently featured in the 2013 exhibition Angels & Aristocrats. Compare the massive immensity of the bard's gorgeously gilded harp with the stubby metallic handle of the Dark Knight's falchion, both suggestively positioned at crotch-level. Dawe's enormous canvas invokes a whole history of blushing that pivots around a direct connection to sexual arousal. More>>

ALSO:

Ethnomusicology: Malian ‘Desert Blues’ Revolutionaries To Storm WOMAD

Malian band Tinariwen (playing WOMAD NZ in March 2018) are a true musical revolutionaries in every sense. Active since 1982, these nomadic Tuareg or ‘Kel Tamashek’ (speakers of Tamashek) electric guitar legends revolutionised a traditional style to give birth to a new genre often called ‘desert blues’. They also have a history rooted deeply in revolution and fighting for the rights of their nomadic Tamashek speaking culture and people. More>>

Gordon Campbell: Best New Music Of 2017

Any ‘best of list’ has to be an exercise in wishful thinking, given the splintering of everyone’s listening habits... But maybe… it could be time for the re-discovery of the lost art of listening to an entire album, all the way through. Just putting that idea out there. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • CULTURE
  • HEALTH
  • EDUCATION
 
 
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland