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  #1   ^
Old Thu, Nov-03-11, 07:53
Demi's Avatar
Demi Demi is offline
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Plan: LCHF/IF
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Default Fat tax: Does obesity really cost society a fortune?

Quote:
From The Independent
London, UK
3 November, 2011


Fat tax: Does obesity really cost society a fortune?

by Rob Lyons


‘You’re right. It’s not a disease, it’s a disgrace.’ That’s what former Militant council leader, turned permatanned gobshite, Derek Hatton told me on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live as we discussed whether it was irresponsible to be fat. Hatton thought that fat people should be taxed. After all, he said, unlike drinkers and smokers they contribute nothing to the healthcare costs they impose upon society. He’s not alone. A few years ago, Giles Coren made a TV programme called Tax the Fat.

Does obesity really cost society a fortune? Not according to a study in the journal PLoS Medicine in 2008: ‘Although effective obesity prevention leads to a decrease in costs of obesity-related diseases, this decrease is offset by cost increases due to diseases unrelated to obesity in life-years gained. Obesity prevention may be an important and cost-effective way of improving public health, but it is not a cure for increasing health expenditures.’ In other words, making fat people slim would, at best, allow them to live longer only to suffer diseases not related to their obesity. The net effect would be to increase NHS expenditure.

Even if there were costs attached to obesity, it is not the case that those who eat so-called junk food contribute nothing in taxes. On the contrary, while fruit, vegetables, meat and other basic ingredients do not attract VAT in the UK, snacks, hot takeaway foods, sugary fizzy drinks and confectionery all get hit by 20 per cent VAT. My back-of-a-crisp-packet calculations suggest that’s worth about £4 billion to the Treasury every year. (I tried asking HMRC for an official figure, but they don’t keep those statistics, apparently.) While a ‘fat tax’ of one kind or another has been introduced in a number of European countries – most recently in Denmark – British shoppers have effectively been paying such a tax for years thanks to differential VAT rates.

The regular calls for a fat tax – whether on the ‘wrong’ foods or on fat people themselves – are symptomatic of two regressive trends in society. The first is the view that experts know best, that these latter-day sages can come to an impartial view based on The Science, then guide government about the appropriate policy action. The new, evidence-based policy usually involves some kind of manipulation of our individual behaviour from gentle ‘nudges’ and increasing taxes through to criminalisation, as in the case of the smoking ban.

But this is not evidence-based policy, but policy-based evidence, with preconceived ideas being pushed through in the name of science at a time when those at the top of society have lost the ability to convince the electorate on the basis of a moral or political argument. This style of policymaking rarely solves social problems, but it does distort both politics and science.

The second worrying trend is the sheer intolerance towards obese people. Being very overweight has always attracted a certain amount of moral opprobrium. But Hatton’s outlook reflects a sea-change. Once, the NHS reflected a progressive outlook that disease was a misfortune that could strike any of us at any time and that the best thing to do was to share that burden across society. Now it’s every man and woman for themselves. In the worldview of Hatton and Coren, some morally weak individuals are costing them money and must be punished.

Ironically, this flows from a left-wing view of disease as having social causes. In the late Seventies, left-wingers correctly saw that some ill-health was the result of poverty, poor housing, polluted air, and so on rather than infection or bad luck. Unfortunately, this has morphed into the idea that disease is caused by individual behaviour – and so health professionals have taken to camping out in our private lives, demanding we stop smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things. Every naughty little pleasure must now be sacrificed to the god of longevity. If we don’t play ball, this intolerance suggests we should lose our right to treatment.

The disease of intolerance is likely to have a far more detrimental effect on society than obesity ever could.

Rob Lyons is author of Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder. He spoke at the Food Fight strand at the Battle of Ideas festival.
http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011...iety-a-fortune/
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  #2   ^
Old Thu, Nov-03-11, 10:21
RobLL RobLL is offline
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Plan: generalized low carb
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I think he makes some good points.
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  #3   ^
Old Thu, Nov-03-11, 13:03
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aj_cohn aj_cohn is offline
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Plan: Protein Power
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I love Lyons' turn of phrase: "policy-based evidence"! But based only his article, I don't see evidence of a sea change in the NHS. He quotes two extremists, neither of whom works for the NHS, and he doesn't mention any proposed changes regarding taxing the obese or changes in policy towards the obese by the NHS. Also, the VAT he mentions seems to be a tax on convenience, not on obesity.

Do other UK members agree with his "sea change" comment?
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  #4   ^
Old Thu, Nov-03-11, 14:40
beernutz's Avatar
beernutz beernutz is offline
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Plan: low carb
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I don't know what a permatanned gobshite is but it somehow doesn't sound complimentary.
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  #5   ^
Old Thu, Nov-03-11, 15:29
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Thomas1492 Thomas1492 is offline
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Plan: Ketogenic
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BeerNutz this may answer your question...

Derek Hatton
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  #6   ^
Old Thu, Nov-03-11, 20:56
BigBenny BigBenny is offline
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Plan: Zero Carb
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Another issue with calculating the "cost of obesity" is, as with all things that have an agenda behind them, they calculate the costs of obesity and say, no matter what the issue is, that it was related to obesity. Heart disease? Obesity. Diabetes? Obesity. Broke your leg? You were too fat to not fall. Cancer? Obesity.

See how that affects the "cost?" After all, obesity isn't a disease, it's a symptom. Would these people have fewer health issues if they lost weight? Sure, maybe. If they adopted a natural human diet, they certainly would reduce almost all of those costs significantly.

But in the end, they are blaming a symptom. It is not obesity causing those costs, it is the chemical waste and "foods" devoid of nutrients that we're told are good for us that's causing it all.
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  #7   ^
Old Fri, Nov-04-11, 04:48
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nifty55 nifty55 is offline
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Plan: Eric Westman Ketogenic
Stats: 294/220/130 Female 5' 6"
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beernutz
I don't know what a permatanned gobshite is but it somehow doesn't sound complimentary.


It's based on an old Scouse (Liverpool) term of, in this case, highly appropriate abuse.

Inform yourself here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Hatton
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  #8   ^
Old Fri, Nov-04-11, 06:22
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leemack leemack is offline
NEVER GIVING UP!
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Plan: no sugar/grains LCHF IF
Stats: 478/354/200 Female 5' 9"
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Progress: 45%
Location: UK
Default

I saw the Sunday morning live show that he's referring to - it was one of the worst examples of intolerance and hatred of the obese on TV, that I've ever seen.

Its a current affairs discussion show. The set up for that particular segment, is that they bring someone in with a 'controversial' opinion and then two other panellists and some 'experts' via phone and webcam also comment. The opinion piece in this case was given by an obese american comedienne (can't remember her name), who was laid into in an awful way by derek Hatton and the other woman on the panel. Rob Lyons came on via webcam, and was also laid into. The tone appeared to be that the obese are disgusting, immoral, costing everyone money and that it is super easy to lose weight, so obese people must be deliberately being gluttons.

Derek Hatton made some idiotic point that if his daughter with 3 children and a job can stay slim and eat 'healthy' then anyone should be able to. Idiot.

I wish Rob Lyons had made a better defense on the show, as both he and the American woman seemed to be floored by the bile and hatred spewing forth from the the other two panellists. His piece here is far better than than the points he tried to make on the show, though I don't think he was given adequate opportunity. The american woman seemed really nice, but was personally attacked for having the view that people should stop hating the obese. When she tried to talk about HAES, the other woman on the panel (super skinny) was looking pointedly at the american woman's stomach and screaming that obese people can't be healthy, they're all costing her money blah blah blah.

I call the show the 'shout at the tv show', as it seems to be very right-wing, government policy biased, with the panel generally weighted on the right wing side of any argument - so I generally end up shouting at the TV. Derek Hatton came across as an idiot and a bully - but who knows where his politics are nowadays.

This segment made me really depressed - there now seems to be an active movement - spurred on by government - to villify various groups of people - the obese, the poor, welfare claimants, the long term sick and disabled. Its a travesty, and I feel really embarrased at the moment to be British.

Lee

Last edited by leemack : Fri, Nov-04-11 at 06:29.
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  #9   ^
Old Fri, Nov-04-11, 09:06
beernutz's Avatar
beernutz beernutz is offline
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Posts: 284
 
Plan: low carb
Stats: 195/174/170 Male 72 inches
BF:22%/15.2%/6 pack!
Progress: 84%
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nifty55
It's based on an old Scouse (Liverpool) term of, in this case, highly appropriate abuse.

Inform yourself here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Hatton

I see. He seems to be the UK version of Jerry Springer (politician turned
"celebrity") except with a mean streak.
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