Dr Daniel Chandler,the public health doctor for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, has suggested there should be a minimum price per calorie as a solution to Scotland's obesity problem which is the second-highest in the developed world.
The proposal, intended to drive up the cost of fatty and sugary products such as crisps and chocolate, was put to a major conference attended by the country's leading public health professionals. Denmark has already imposed 25% tax increases on ice cream, chocolate and sweets.
"The price [for healthier foods] is more expensive when you look at it on a per-calorie basis.”I disagree with Dr Chandler's statement. It's all too easy to label every high calorie food as 'unhealthy'. Only this week it was reported researchers in Sweden have revealed that dark chocolate works on the body in the same way as blood pressure pills. The same researchers previously showed the benefits of green tea. The study proved that eating 75 grams of dark chocolate is as effective as ACE inhibitor drugs currently given to millions of patients with HBP.
There have been hundreds of studies involving food and fat content. In certain situations fatty foods may help aid concentration.
A fat tax is dreadful idea for two reasons. This tax would impact on the poorest most of all, because it would create an increase in the price of many foods. Also, taxation should never be used to control behaviour and impose the government's moral priorities on the public.
Then we have the problem of which fatty foods would be taxed. Cheese is high in fat but has many health benefits. Butter, another natural product, is far better for you than many of the spreads available today. If sufferers of HBP took a chunk of dark chocolate every day that could possibly save our health services millions of pounds a year. Who would decide what were the 'bad' or 'good' high content fatty foods?
Lifestyles have changed in the past half-century. Many more people have sedentary lifestyles, such as working from home and losing out on the exercise usually involved with getting to work. Also there is much more food available. I doubt if there are many places in the UK where there isn't a fast food business. Until 20 years ago or so it was only the chip shop which provided the high fat, instant meal but nowadays the variety is mind boggling.
What is needed is more education about the amount of food we eat then governments to leave us to take responsibility for our own bodies. Most people recognise that excess weight is usually acquired from excessive eating. That's the point which needs to be emphasised. Once people have the knowledge then they have a choice. It's not for governments to remove the choice, by taxation, of what we consume in the way of food.
There is one piece of good food news this week. I've always loved that vegetable and my favourite recipe includes a little bacon, while another is shredded, a tablespoon of water and two of lemon/line juice. Cook on a slow heat for at least 45 minutes. Delicious.