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  1. 1

    Frank Campbell

    I’ll say it again: the next PM, K.Rudd, will announce that obesity is the greatest oral challenge of our time.

    That should fill the void left by the carbon tax…

  2. 2

    Fran Barlow

    I’ve no problem in principle with sumptuary taxes on food but we need to consider feasibility here.

    1. Identifying counter-nutritive “food” Technical

    It seems to me that while low density lipoproteins are key, we need also to look beyond that to refined sugar, and other additives that make counter-nutritive “foods” palatable or that extend their shelf-life. While these additives may not directly contribute measurably to obesity, they certainly predispose consumption far more than advertising. If we are not to outright band refined sugagr, preservatives, flavour enhancers, salt, emulsifiers and colour, then these ought to be red flags and heads of harm which a tax regime should add to a calculus. Foods sold with pack-ins (toys in the box) or other promotional material (prizes, giveaways etc) ought to be taxed more heavily. Taxation should be proportionate to mass.

    2. Hypothecating Revenue for positive health promotion Equitable and Operational Feasibility

    Revenue raised by these programs ought to be 100% hypothecated to the creation of locally run food-co-ops. Here, subject to due diligence, and perhaps overseen by the local area health service, could establish and maintain a service where (subject to means test adjusted pricing), people could either prepare their own meals (supported initially by a suitably qualified person), or eat prepared meals on site. Limted quantities of bulk staple foods could also be available for purchase on any day. These services could be run on school grounds which these days typically have covered areas, kitchens and so forth. In many cases the beneficiaries would be getting their service at the local school and people could (after school) offer training in food handling, selection and preparation.This would have the added benefit of being a worthwhile diversionary program for kids. In short, while #1 is a push factor and #2 here is a pull factor. We are attempting to address disadvantage directly.

    The centres would not refuse service to anyone, but means testing would ensure appropriate contribution to avoid the “middle-class welfare” objection and to underpin further service. Given suitable due diligence, the co-ops could accept sponsorship from local businesses not involved in the counter-nutritive food business (or something equally undesirable e.g. alcohol promotion)

  3. 3


    The knee-jerk reaction to “saturated fats” really needs close scrutiny.
    Firstly , are they really the demons they are made out to be? Very questionable. Do they have a causal relationship to cardiovascular disease? Also very questionable.
    The issues relating to obesity are far wider than saturated fats.
    Primarily, the disparity between calorific intake and energy expenditure in an increasingly sedentary society. We don’t get enough exercise in relation to the energy embedded in the food we eat.
    Secondarily is the relationship between essential nutrient density and energy density of foods, the so-called “empty calories or kilojoules”.
    Add to that, the predisposition to obesity related to certain psychological states. The clearly documented issue is obesity in the ADHD population (a paper in press at the moment indicates in excess of 6% of the adult population have ADHD issues). Look also at the research suggesting that obesity is related to infection with Adenovirus 36. Add to this, the evidence to suggest a familial factor in Type 2 Diabetes and it’s precursor, metabolic syndrome and it is abundantly clear that taxing saturated fats is going off half-cocked.

  4. 4


    The problem with subsidising fresh fruit and vegetables comes down to who benefits from the subsidy. If the subsidy is paid to growers on the basis of improvements in both nutritional and gustatory qualities, I’m all for it. At the moment, growers are being squeezed out of business by the power wielding mass marketers who look at the lowest priced product compatible with acceptable sales rather than the highest quality product. If the subsidy was allowed to enter into the chain at any level above grower,(wholesaler, consignment agent, transporter or retailer, no benefit would accrue to the consumer.
    There may be benefits in using subsidies to reduce “food miles”. There may be benefits in promoting the seasonality of high quality produce. So far, the research programs designed to enhance sales of Queensland pineapples in southern states have been a disaster. It is now nearly impossible to purchase a naturally ripe pineapple as the research has concentrated on how to present immature pineapples as a desirable product as opposed to devising packing and handling procedures to put a ripe pineapple on the supermarket shelf in prime condition.
    Similarly, apples are consigned to ,often poorly managed cool stores, when great show should be made of their superior taste when fresh off the tree and treated well. Apples lose a significant portion of aroma/flavour components in the first few days after harvest. That time is critical for the presentation of a superior product to the consumer.
    The practice of creating fresh fruit and vegetable varieties that look good and travel well has been at the expense of gustatory qualities and nutritional excellence. Tomatoes are the classic example, the less said the better. Anyone who grows their own, however badly, recognised the superior flavour of the home grown product. This is despite the fact that optimum growing conditions for flavour and nutrient rich tomatoes were established by scientific trials many years ago.
    The lack of understanding of the perishable nature of fresh fruit and vegetables, couples with the abyssmal training of staff in most retail situations also fails the consumer.

  5. 5

    tara fellman

    Denmark Fights Obesity with “Fat Tax”


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