And now they want to tax your food

No, it simply won\’t work.

Common ingredients in fast food, ready meals and drinks should be taxed as a public health measure to curb soaring rates of obesity and diabetes, according to a leading epidemiologist.

The scheme, proposed by Sir Nicholas Wald, director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London, would raise the cost of less healthy products to discourage shoppers and put pressure on manufacturers and retailers to embrace healthier options.

Rather than targeting junk food in general, the tax would be applied to salt, alcohol, sugar and saturated fats, the four major ingredients that contribute most to public health problems. The tax would not apply to the ingredients sold separately.

Our arteries, our decision, surely?

But it won\’t work as claimed anyway:

Adopting the tax would earn the Treasury £38bn a year, enough to cover much of the interest on the national debt or pay for one-third of the NHS.

No it won\’t, not a chance. Have a look here at what people actually pay for food.

Food and sodas is £37 a week, booze n\’ drugs £10, restaurants and hotels £40. Bit of massaging to drop the drugs and hotels and say, £77, £80 a week for the average household? Of which there are 24 ish million and 52 weeks in the year.

Say, roundabout, £100 billion? You\’re not, no, you\’re just not, going to be able to get 40% of that sum in tax. If food prices in general rise that much then of course we\’ll be having riots in the streets. And if specific foods only are so taxed then people will substitute away from them. Rather the point of the exercise actually, but that does mean that you\’re not going to get the tax on the foods just substituted away from.

Look at this little detail:

a penny a tenth of a gram for salt

We\’re supposed to eat 6 grammes of salt a day. It\’s a vital substance that keeps us alive. So they want to tax us 60 p a day for that? £219 a year? Didn\’t Ghandi walk to the sea over something like this?

Sir Nicholas may indeed be a most distinguished person. But my response to this idea ranges, dependent upon my choler, from \”might I suggest you do the sums again?\” to \”you kin fuck right off matey\”.

And that\’s without even mentioning the entirely rampant stupidity of taxing only the combinations, not the ingredients individually. After all, we\’ve already got the technology to add salt when we want to, no?

9 comments on “And now they want to tax your food

  1. Pingback: Longrider » Health Fascist du Jour

  2. If the Gov did this, and people bought less food like this, would Richie claim it as tax avoidance? Would UK Uncut occupy people’s homes in protest at them not buying doughnuts?

  3. “Adopting the tax would earn the Treasury £38bn a year”

    And there, gentlemen, is the real reason. Lots, lots more funding for health pressure groups to ratchet up the hysteria even further.

  4. A salt tax. That’s an interesting idea. Wonder if it’s been tried before?

    Why yes! It has.

    The wicked nasty Brits imposed one on the Indians back in the days of the Raj. It was so successful a chap in a loincloth, can’t remember his name, used it as a rallying point in his successful campaign to kick us from the sub-continent.

  5. The science is nowhere near certain enough to help justify this. In fact, this appears symptomatic of the failure of dietary science to provide convincing and useful results.

    One can’t expect an intervention like this not to have major unintended consequences, as people will find ways to make up for lost fat/sugar in unexpected and probably unhealthy ways. If they really want to coerce everyone in to eating their approved diet, they should just be honest about it and reintroduce rationing.

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