Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fat is a taxing issue

Should overweight people pay more income tax than others?

That was one of the questions posed by a member of the
audience in yesterday’s TV programme, aptly called
“ The Big Question”.

Is being fat the result of pure gluttony on the part of the
individual? Are fatties “troughing it”, as one of my nieces
used to say, as we all sat down to eat piles of veg at
meal-times? Or are they afflicted with a “stay-fat-all-your
-life” gene, which excuses them from their bad habits of
over-eating and taking little exercise?

It’s been well documented that overweight people do eat a lot
more than thin ones, and I can testify to that, as one of my
sisters is grossly overweight. She eats far more than I ever
could at one sitting, and can still have room at the end of a
meal to tuck into a large box of Belgian chocolate truffles.

One of the GPs I trained with in my 20s, said that pig farmers
could determine how much weight and fat their pigs would put on,
before slaughter, according to the amount and quality of the
food they gave the pigs to eat. Another comment this Jewish GP
would make from time to time, was that “you never saw any
fatties walk out of Auschwitz”.

Some of his patients said they couldn’t lose any weight on the
low calorie diet he asked them to follow. I recall one funny
true story of an overweight woman who loved eating (fried)
fish and chips. He asked her to cut down on eating so much.
She came back a month later, but she hadn’t lost any weight.
Dr. M asked her about the fish & chips. “Oh, I’ve stopped
eating chips,” she said, “I just eat fish”. But when asked a
bit more about this, she said she was eating 5 fried fish a

Coming back to the idea of asking overweight people to pay
more tax, this does sound a good one, but it is totally
impractical. It would be an administrative nightmare, unless
there were a fully computerised integration of the GP medical
service and the Inland Revenue, which would never happen.

If you’re overweight, you’re more prone to high blood pressure
and getting maturity onset (type 2) diabetes, which both make
you more likely to develop heart disease, strokes and kidney
failure. Also your hip and knee joints are likely to wear out
sooner, and you’ll be more prone to disabling lower back pain
(slipped disc problems).

But if you start penalising the overweight, what about the
smokers who are more prone to chronic lung disease, lung cancer,
heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. Should they
pay more?

And then what about all the people who are keen on mountain
sports and all the other sportsmen & women who injure themselves.
Should they be charged as well either by higher taxation or by
paying for the medical care they receive?

To take this daft line of thinking a bit further, you’d then
have to charge all women who become pregnant for obstetric
services, as men don’t get pregnant, do we? It's perfectly
reasonable that women should pay more for the extra care they


Blogger Kevin 'In Salford' said...

That's one of your best! I'll comment later.


2:30 AM  
Anonymous LOM said...

What I really winds me up is fat people saying it's not their fault they are fat. I am a fatty and I know it's my fault. I eat far too much. I don't eat unhealthy, I cook from fresh and make all my own puds so I can watch the fat/sugar and salt. But saying that I am a lot fitter than thin people I know.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Carla Cunningham said...

I can relate to this article as I know from first hand experience just how hard it is to lose weight, and to maintain it. I wrote a book called Alone in the Storm, which has recently been published, and it is about an overweight woman who subconsciously put on the weight to protect herself from being hurt by love. She struggles with her weight issues, and in the end she manages to overcome them, but not before she learns some important lessons about herself and life.

Carla Cunningham, Published Book Author of Alone in the Storm

The website for my book is - http://www.eloquentbooks.com/AloneInTheStorm.html, or if you’d like more information about my book you can email me at cmccunningham@msn.com

10:38 AM  
Blogger Kimber said...

Ahhh Justin...but remember, without pregnant women, there would BE no men!

6:41 PM  
Blogger justin said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.
Both my sister and my dad have struggled with their weight problems over the years, so I do know something about the difficulties a lot of people have. I've painted a fairly black & white picture, that's too simplistic. There are layers of emotional baggage too and possibly what is almost an addiction to eating food, especially chocolate.

A big "yes, you're dead right!" to Kimber. Very funny.

11:15 PM  

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