Fat Tax Alternatives – Better, Crazier Plans for a Healthier Canada

Posted: January 21, 2013 in doctors, gym, my tubby self, Rant, weight loss
Tags: , ,

The Fat Tax and YOU! – It all started with my post about a group of Ontario doctors proposing a tax on high calorie items. They proposed it as a way of combating obesity but to me it seems more about profiting from obesity than actually putting effort in to stopping it.

I should mention that as part of my research I found out that both Denmark and Hungary have proposed such taxes, in fact Denmark worked on a fat tax and a separate sugar tax. About a year after Denmark imposed the fat tax it is contemplating rolling it back and is considering abandoning plans for the sugar tax. Although I didn’t find any information on if the tax was having the desired effect of decreasing obesity (it was probably too early to see useful data on it anyway) the reasons for considering dropping the tax were mostly political and echoed in all of the articles I read. Firstly, many labour groups were claiming that the tax was costing people jobs in the food and beverage industry and secondly the Danes were just border hopping to buy and horde food from countries without the tax (which explains why the jobs were disappearing).

Although I still oppose the tax vehemently these are  obviously very real problems that would have to be addressed if this proposed tax is actually considered for Canada. Many people in cities within driving distance of the US border are already crossing for shopping deals and smuggling cigarettes is big business. Do we really have the time and interest to search every citizen returning from the US for hidden compartments full of bags of chips and bottles of cola? Will contraband cupcakes become a thing?  If they do, I want to be known as the Cupcake Kingpin…I will require a cane with a cupcake shaped handle and some sort of pimpin’ hat with a feather in it…although I might be mixing villain archetypes there. Anyway, the point is that suddenly a lot of the money generated by the fat tax will used up policing the border, and extra border security hasn’t really worked to stop the drug trade from flourishing so it’s effectiveness is sort of questionable.

The Obesity Conundrum – Then I moved on to looking at some of the obstacles to a healthy life style. Mostly it was from my own experience and more than anything it was a stepping stone to this post.

Now I am ready to wrap this up and move on. What started as an insulting post on someone’s Facebook has spawned three blog posts that I am pretty proud of, it has gotten me more views, likes, shares and follows than anything that has come before but it is time to finish off and put it to bed. I can think of no better way to do that than with a quick brainstorm of alternatives to the Fat Tax, I once stated I could think of a hundred better alternatives to the Fat Tax and despite that probably being gross hyperbole it is still time to put my money where my mouth is.

I should mention that the ideas listed below for curbing obesity range from the mundane to the insane to the completely infeasible to the down right moronic. I am not trying to establish policy, I am trying to brainstorm and there are no “stupid ideas” in brainstorming…except for every idea besides mine, those are clearly idiotic and should be mocked accordingly. Anyway, I will try to keep this post as coherent as I can but I am also hopped up on cold meds…so odds aren’t stellar that it will be readable. Without further ado…

Rancid Monke Patent-Pending Obesity Combating Tips

More money spent on playgrounds, nature trails, community sports programs and recreation centres – If we can get kids to make a habit of exercising through sports and playing then that habit will continue into adulthood. Not only does it make sense to me but I have seen this theory in action. While I never really got into any sports my brother spent years in junior hockey leagues as a goalie. Despite the fact that he never made it to the professional level the habit of playing hockey followed him into adulthood and he has been in and out of both ball hockey and ice hockey leagues for years. There is probably an equal amount of beer swilled to hockey played but he is still in better shape than I am likely to ever be.

Mandatory cooking classes in school – if people can cook they aren’t nearly as reliant on fast food. I am perpetually surprised by how many people I meet who can’t cook. I am no culinary master but I am talking people who can’t even make there own macaroni and cheese unless it comes in those microwave cups. I was forced into taking a lot of bizarre classes in junior and senior high including gym class, industrial arts and career and life management (in which we listened to our gym teacher tell pointless life stories). Seems to me a few cooking classes would be infinitely more useful than almost all the algebra I ever learned.

Government caps on max sugar and fats in foods – Set a limit to how much crap they can actually put in any given product.  

Subsidies for gym membership – Subsidize the insane costs of joining a gym so more people can afford it. 

Tax credits for purchasing home gym equipment – They gave tax credits for house  renovations here in Alberta a while back, why not for people improvement? Save up your receipts for any exercise or sports equipment you bought in the year or for your gym membership/personal trainer and be able to claim it.

Artificial fat flavour – We have artificial sugar flavouring in Aspartame and Splenda so why can’t the same be done to make the flavour of kettle cooked potato chips into my bland ass rice cakes? Sorry, but baked chips just don’t taste the same, so why isn’t anyone working on fixing that?

Meal partners – I think this would make for an excellent website idea. Being single and living on my own tends to leave me fairly open to ignoring proper meal planning or preparation. Why put effort into a nice dinner when I can wolf down a bag of chips and watch Netflix instead? So what if I could go on a site and get paired up with someone else who likes to cook but doesn’t feel much obligation to when they are all alone. The site could allow you to find someone within a easy to accommodate radius of where you live and then allow you to set up a schedule for making meals you can share. Sort of like a dating site but replace the awkward touching with a nice spaghetti dinner. Instead of a profile rife with lies, sexual innuendo and self shots in the bathroom mirror you would have a list of your favourite recipes so anyone interested would know what sort of things to expect if they partnered up with you.

Mandatory sizes on apartment kitchens – I have been in a variety of apartment kitchens over the years and the expectation of an ability to cook a meal in some of them is laughable. Nothing makes me want to cook less than having no counter space to work on and no dishwasher to help make clean up easier. I propose that any new apartment or  housing development should be required to devout a specific square footage of space toward a properly designed kitchen.

Panini shops – Why the hell are their no panini fast food places? I am not even sure if a panini would be considered all that much healthier than other fast food items but considering how tasty they are why has no one set up a panini franchise in Canada yet?

Food court restrictions – What if food courts were required to have a specific number of health alternatives kiosks per each burger, pizza or fried chicken shop?

All fast food for commercial ads has to be from an actual store – Currently any of the food used in advertisements and posters at a fast food place needs to consist of 100% edible products. Unfortunately with things like edible food lacquers and the massive amount of advanced prep time that burger in the poster will look nothing like what they wrap in coloured paper and hand to you. I think they should make it so that any food used in advertising needs to be randomly sampled from an actual store kitchen instead of the corporate kitchen. Either the food at the chain would start looking better overall of the posters would start looking much more realistic and less appetizing. This might not have much effect on obesity per say but it would make for more honesty in food advertisement.

Specific times fast food commercials can’t air – By preventing the airing of fast food commercials during standard breakfast, lunch and dinner time periods we may be able to prevent impulse purchasing. Commercials for mouth watering burgers or pizza just as you are trying to decided what to do about making dinner is not very conducive to making smart and healthy choices.

Convince the companies, not the public – It may be difficult to convince a board of directors of a large company that reducing fats or sugars in their product or to make healthy alternatives would be in their best interests but it is still small groups with a fairly easy to define goal in mind (to make money for the share holders). Compare that to trying convince millions of average citizens with wildly different motivations that they should eat healthier.

Rancid J. Monke
rancidmonke@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rancid.monke
Twitter – @rancidmonke

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