After a year of research, and goodness knows how many tax dollars in funding, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) has concluded one of the best solutions to obesity in the UK is a 20% tax on fizzy drinks. Ridiculous. Taxes don't stop people doing things that are bad for their health. They certainly haven't stopped millions of people smoking, drinking or buying One Direction albums.
Why the AMRC think raising the price of soft drinks will suddenly have us ordering a wheatgrass shot with our McHappy Meal is beyond me. It's like using your hands to plug an arterial wound; it might stop laser beams of blood spurting out of you for a while, but eventually you're going to want to take them away to scratch an itch. Most of us wouldn't need Captain Obvious to point this out, but it seems the government might.
Obesity needs to be tackled from childhood, where a lot of our adult habits are formed. As far as our domestic life goes, we mimic what our parents did. Think of how you run your household, how you wash, iron and fold your clothes, how your kitchen drawers and cupboards are set up. I'm betting it's very similar to what happened in the house you grew up in. So if you were brought up on a diet of take-aways, it's very likely to influence how you feed yourself and your kids today. Home cooking needs to become something we see and do so often as a child, it becomes just another habit we take into adulthood.
Quite simply, parents also need to teach their kids to cook. You're too busy? Rubbish. Where lifestyle priorities are concerned, too busy should only be followed with things like "for my laser hair removal" or "to meet my mates at the pub three times a week", not finding time to cook for your kids. You don't need to watch X Factor, Big Brother or Downton Abbey in the evening either. That's what I -Players are for. You watch them the next day at work, like normal people.
So unplug the laptop, ignore the phone, haul the kids away from the Wii and dedicate one hour a night to cooking dinner. I know Jamie Oliver says you can do it in 15 minutes, but that's rubbish too, and he's not factoring in the shopping and washing up time now is he? Get the kids involved, teach them to cook, and the next generation might not need a motorised scooter to get to the mailbox when they're 30.
Maybe the AMRC should have looked to Denmark for answers, or at least for the wrong answers. In 2011 they brought in their own fat tax on foods containing more than 2.3 % saturated fat. But less than two years later it's been deemed a failure and is to be abolished. What they found was that it merely caused other food prices to be rise. In some areas, Danes even began traveling to Germany to stock up their larders. While I doubt Britons will be rushing through the Chunnel just to find cheap Coke, who knows what other 'Fat Taxes' might be considered further down the road.
Let's face it; a so-called Fat Tax is a tax for the poor. Although, the results of recent research by Leeds Metropolitan University attempted to refute this theory when it concluded the majority of overweight children studied were from middle-class backgrounds. But, as they drew data from a pool of only 13,333 kids from Leeds, I hardly think this can be said to be representative of a nation of over 62 million. Lower social class and poor diets are an unfortunate reality today. Unless the definition of 'fizzy drinks' is extended to include Dom and Moet, I doubt the wealthy will be too bothered by it all.
As my Mum always says, we need to call a spade a bloody shovel. Even if some of the AMRC's other recommendations were sensible, we don't need a bunch of doctors to work on a project for a year to tell us how to beat obesity. People just need to eat less and exercise more. So forget the Fat Tax. If doctors and those who govern us want to benefit society via a new tax, let's bring in a stupidity tariff instead. It certainly wouldn't discriminate by class, and it might just solve the obesity crisis while it's at it.
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