Fat Tax Fat Lot of Good

I'm not sure about the fat tax. My concern is that it would hit those who can least afford it the hardest. Action's no doubt needed but making food even dearer in the current economic climate doesn't seem like a good - or fair - policy.

I'm not sure about the fat tax. My concern is that it would hit those who can least afford it the hardest. Plus ca change... In Denmark, some of the things they've stung with the tax include butter, crisps and mince. Butter...I dunno...I mean, does anyone really eat enough of it to warrant incurring a hefty financial penalty for doing so? And mince is a good way to get protein and iron if you're cash-strapped. Action's no doubt needed (more of that later) but making food even dearer in the current economic climate doesn't seem like a good - or fair - policy.

It might work if the sole cause of our obesity epidemic was the fact that the more reasonably priced food also happens to be the stuff that contains high quantities of artery clogging saturated fat, salt and sugar. But I don't believe that's our only - or even biggest - problem. I think eating big portions of food - whatever food - has become a pastime, something to do when you're at a loose end, regardless of how hungry you are or what you've already eaten; it's like it's the new knitting or Donkey Kong. If I go to the cinema at 9pm on a Sunday night when most people have presumably eaten their dinner, it's the norm to be seated between people chowing down vats of popcorn that contain around 1500 calories a pop (s'cuse the pun) - that's probably all your average female burns off in a day, which leads me nicely into Part 2 of the problem: we're not really burning anything off anymore.

So how to make eating lots less, desirable? And come to think of it, how to make moving more sexy, too? We need long term, healthy eating cheerleaders and we need effective - not necessarily government-led - schemes in place to incentivise us all to get moving. Let's start with The Glorious Game. Much as I'd love to think that an image of Victoria Pendleton chomping on a Granny Smith or Mo Farah glugging from a carton of skimmed milk would do it, I fear these guys wouldn't cut it as five-a-day cheerleaders. Nope, we need to bring on the Sherman tanks of mass appeal, the blue chip's marketing equivalent of a nuclear warhead: the footballer. Now footballers do currently endorse food but - correct me if I'm wrong - it tends to be crisps and soft drinks. What about the country's best striker holding up a stuffed crust pizza saying "If I ate this every day, I'd look like this" (cut to image of obese Rooney in front of telly); "...instead I eat this" (cut to him eating jacket potato with baked beans and salad) "...so I can do this" (cut to him scoring a winning goal). (I think I'm in the wrong industry here - I should be brainstorming in a Fitzrovia boardroom). It might work, no? Clearly Walkers, Coca Cola, Pepsi and Gatorade can't all be wrong. I for one would love our country's biggest stars to also (not instead of existing endorsements) champion a lifestyle that might enable their fans to make it past 40 without being diagnosed with a life threatening illness.

So now we've got the apple-munching strikers, we need some other schemes. There are steps being made in the right direction... The brilliant lbs for £s scheme from Tesco Diets turns every pound of weight you lose on one of their diets to a £1 donation to Diabetes UK. That's a nice little incentive now bikini season's over. And while we're talking feelgood, what about CSV's (the country's biggest volunteering charity) Make a Difference Day on the 29th October? They're suggesting intergenerational Wii parties, painting a local hub, or mowing your neighbour's lawn as a way of being a thoroughly decent community member and losing a bit of weight along the way. And lastly if you want your project sexed-up a bit, what about Olympic equipment-supplier Technogym's Our Greatest Team campaign? Launched at Leisure Industry Week at the end of September, in association with Team GB and Paralympics GB, the plan is to build a '60 million strong team' with a scheme that encourages everyone and anyone to make a fitness pledge and access their cutting edge technology via a network of 'Pledge Community Hubs' (Mark Zuckerberg, eat your heart out).

So you see, there's lots that can be done before we slap a tax on all things tasty squeezing our poor, crisp-loving nation's wallets yet again.