Tag Archives: obesity

Denmark’s fat tax! I l love it! But let’s pick on thin and lazy people also.

9 Oct

Fat people are more obviously unhealthy than thin people but both cost the NHS. We need a tax on unhealthy food in general, not just saturated fats. Thank you NZ Sunday Mercury for this pic, which raises lots of other questions...

I think a fat\health tax is great but sadly totally flawed. I’d call it a health tax, tax refined carbs and dramatically lighten up the costs of ‘healthier’ foods.  My belief is that the masses, including both skinny and fat people, know that a KCF/Maccy D/Burger King/Taco Bell/Red Rooster/etc burger/fries is bad for them, but because it tastes good, it fills you up and it’s cheap, health doesn’t get a look in.  

The figures are widely varied but recently, the Independent newspaper blog suggested that ‘fat’ people cost the UK £4.2bn’ in obesity related illnesses. However in a 2008 story in The Grocer, this figure is more like £6.8bn and it’s not just fat people who are chronically unhealthy, thin people are also a drag on the system costing the NHS even more at £7.3bn a year.

I pay £2.99 for a raw chocolate bar that perks me up and gives me essential minerals and vitamins when I could pay for 35p for an average chocolate bar that also does the job of perking me up but only for a moment and at a cost to my liver, gut, brain and adrenal system.  When times are tough, and I need a snack – there is no way I can afford to choose ‘healthy’.  Fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive and they don’t last for months in my grocery cupboard, making bulk buying difficult. Raising the price of naughty food will certainly make me (average person) think twice, but the only way this will really work to cut costs to the NHS is if the price of health foods is also slashed.

While it is a worry that Cameron is proposing a tax only on saturated fats, it is a step in the right direction. Breaking habits of lifetimes is hard and people don’t like change, but when it comes to money – maybe we have hope that the message will get through to the people who need it whether they are smart, thin, fat, stupid, poor or rich.

We are what we eat and it’s as simple as that!

Advertisements

Hamburgers and fried chicken are in my culture. Fruit and vegetables are out.

6 Mar

'It's not my fault I like fried chicken. It's my culture...'

1. Taste. 2. Price. 3. Convenience…1,204,895. Health.

According to the recent newsletter from Food and Drink Europe, a  survey of 200 Spanish consumers, published in Journal of Sensory Studies, showed that health and weight loss barely make our list of priorities when choosing what food to buy.  Pretty obvious results but as we dig deeper in the newsletter we discover that what influences our choice of taste is predominantly culture. And one of the problems us fat and sugar addicted people have is that we don’t want to give up our culture to eat healthily.  Well – we gave up eating healthily to eat badly didn’t we?  In fact – if we go way, way, way back – one could argue that our one true culture of food consumption is raw fruits and vegetables.

Carrillo and colleagues explained that fats and sugars provide major contributions to the sensory and palatable characteristics of foods, but the high availability of energy-dense foods in developed countries – particularly in the U.S and countries within the European Union – promotes preferences that are inconsistent with dietary guidelines and have a direct relationship to wider obesity problems.

“Increased consumption of foods with high proportions of these components is mainly due to taste preference, aroma and mouth-feel characteristics,” they added.

However non-sensory aspects of food choice, such as culture, can also have a major impact on food preference.

For example, previous research (Ethnicity & Health, Vol 9(4):349-67) suggested that certain populations of African-Americans in the US believe that ‘eating healthily’ would mean giving up part of their cultural heritage, and trying to conform to the dominant culture.’

This study initially frustrated me but on second thought it is inspiring. The solution to shifting our behaviours is simple – we just have to make healthy food sensorally attractive and culturally familiar.