Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Taxing fat does little but tax our intelligence

By Felicity McMahon - posted Wednesday, 4 April 2007

So it turns out that after all this time of thinking that soy products are good for us and having spent the last decade replacing the milk in our lattes with soy milk, each small sip was a step closer to a cancerous ending for us all.

When the New South Wales Cancer Council declared recently (Sydney Morning Herald, January 14, 2007) that soy products may actually increase the likelihood of developing cancer, the news was less instructive for latte-sipping city slickers - like myself - and more instructive to our beloved bureaucrats intent on guiding our diet choices through taxing so-called fattening foods.

It turns out, that even science doesn’t have the cancer-proof answer to our dieting questions to lay the stepping stones to a cancer-free healthy body and life. So why is it that politicians feel as though they do?


The interesting thing about the news released by the Cancer Institute is how forcefully it demonstrates our transient understanding of diet and nutrition, and how what’s good for you today, might be marked as fatal tomorrow. This is an instructive lesson for any government to stay out of mandating food choices by using fiscal remedies such as a fat tax.

By taxing supposedly fatty foods all the government does is indirectly legitimise certain food choices therein denying our own individual ability to make choices for ourselves.

It’s an absurdity that fails to realise that moderation is the answer to our food problems, not abolishing particular foods.

Any person, regardless of how vast their belt is, knows that eating particular foods to excess is unhealthy.

If Morgan Spurlock, the man who dared to “diet” merely on McDonalds meals (Super Size Me) taught us one thing - and I think that credits him far beyond what he deserves - it was that eating the same thing over and over is not only outrageously dumb, it’s boring and unhealthy.

If this is something we already know then, how will adding a tax discourage our unhealthy food choices? The answer is, it simply won’t, because we eat burgers, ice cream and hot chips because we like the taste, despite the fact that we know the next morning we’ll appear more rotund than yesterday. A tax won’t tell us anything we don’t, or shouldn’t already know.


But even if we were to entertain for a moment the idea of a fat tax, how effective would it be anyway?

If it were a tax slapped arbitrarily on, say, fast foods surely its effectiveness would be undercut by simply over-indulging on other fattening delicacies, such as fresh cream, or excessive amounts of bread or heaven forbid, cheese. Does it make sense at all that fast foods, such as, say, a McDonalds or KFC are smacked with a tax, yet an equally fattening, alternative, such as fresh cream, avoids the taxman’s ambit?

The problem with a fat tax is that it is only effective when the tax is applied to an unhealthy quantity of consumption, rather than individual foods per se. But a fat tax, would presumably apply equally to your first Big Mac - which might be OK within a balanced diet - as well as on your 10th - which we already know is bad for you.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

3 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Felicity McMahon is a graduate of the University of Technology, Sydney, with a degree in Business and a First Class Honours Degree in Law.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Felicity McMahon

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Felicity McMahon
Article Tools
Comment 3 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy