And lo, from the land of the batty folk came a new report calling for a fat tax on food products. Even though the report was riddled with inconsistencies, the boffins who authored this nonsense still managed to claim that as many as 3,000 lives would be saved by a tax on ’unhealthy’ products such as cakes, pastries and biscuits.
Never mind that, in the process, and by the authors’ own slightly bizarre calculations, food prices would be pushed up, consumption of fruit and veg would decline and - oh yes - the report’s estimates on how many lives would be saved should be treated as ’crude’.
This nonsense came out earlier this month in a paper published in the rather grand-sounding Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and, sadly, created a mini media storm as to whether a fat tax would result in a healthier nation.
It all blew over very quickly, thank goodness, but only after we had spent a couple of days forcibly reminding people that such a move would actually be a tax on the poor, who tend to spend more of their disposable income on food. Moreover, there’s certainly no compelling evidence to suggest such a regressive taxation policy would make us any thinner.
The work the industry is doing to reformulate its products with alternatives that are lower in fat or salt will have a far bigger impact on the nation’s health than any new food tax. But the authors of this report clearly don’t live in the real world. So now they are safely back in their ivory tower, let’s hope someone locks ’em in.