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Thread: Outlawing Obesity: European Governments Seek to Mandate Healthier Diets

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    Outlawing Obesity: European Governments Seek to Mandate Healthier Diets

    A fast food tax in Romania. Levies on chocolate in Denmark. Restrictions on trans fats in Spain. As the European population gets larger, many governments are seeking to legislate better health.

    Can governments really legislate a svelte population? A number of governments in Europe, concerned about the growing waistlines of their citizens, seem to think so.

    The Spanish government wants to ban excessive trans fats, Denmark will soon be taxing sweets and in Romania, Health Minister Attila Cseke has said he would like to see a tax on unhealthy food.

    In Germany, too, there are some in Berlin who would like to see a government offensive against girth. In a Monday interview with the Rheinische Post, Green Party floor leader Renate Künast wants to ban advertising for sweets aimed at children.

    "Aggressive advertising campaigns aimed at children 12 years and younger should be forbidden," Künast told the paper. "Food commercials, which are mostly ads for sweets, should not be broadcast during children shows. We need a ban."

    Eating Habits of the Citizenry

    Künast's comments come as several European Union governments are taking a closer look at the eating habits of their citizenry. Last week in Bucharest, Cseke announced that a new tax would go into effect at the beginning of March on fast food. About 25 percent of the Romanian population is considered obese, according to estimates by the Romanian Society of Nutrition.

    "The new tax will account for a percentage of fast food product sales and the revenues that we will collect will be used to supplement funds needed to run health programs and invest in system infrastructure," Cseke said.

    A number of large fast-food chains, including McDonalds and KFC, would be affected by the tax. Should it go into effect as announced by Cseke, it would be the first such tax in the world. The parliament in Taiwan is also set to consider a similar law this year.

    According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of obesity has tripled in many European countries since the 1980s, with the rate, particularly among children, continuing to rise. For years, studies have found Germans among the most obese people in Europe, with Greeks and the British likewise tending toward the ultra-large. But obesity is seen as a growing problem in many European countries.

    Tax on Chocolate

    Lawmakers, though, are only now beginning to take unhealthy eating habits seriously. Denmark too, is looking into using fiscal policy as a way to still its population's desire for sweets. A new tax on chocolates, ice cream and other sweets -- to be added to an already-existent tax on sodas this year -- will generate some 1.5 billion Danish kroner (€200 million) per year, according to a study by the Confederation of Danish Industry's Food Branch.

    When it comes to the food front, though, much of the legislative focus continues to be on trans fats -- a type of unsaturated fat used in many fried foods and which has been linked to coronary disease. The fats have already been banned from restaurants in numerous US municipalities as well as in California.

    In Europe, Denmark was an early adherent to the anti-trans fat bandwagon, passing a law drastically limiting their use in 2004. Last October, Austria introduced a similar restriction. And this year, Spain is set to follow suit.

    'Just an Idea'

    But it's Romania's efforts to tax fast food which are turning the most heads when it comes to combating the growing problem of obesity in Europe. If it passes. Romania's Finance Minister Sebastian Vladescu downplayed the proposal last week, saying it was "just an idea."

    And there are those in Romania who think that it wouldn't work to improve Romanians' health anyway. "It would be naive to believe our good minister when he says that this tax will prompt people to eat more healthily," wrote the Romanian daily Adevarul last week. "A quick glance at other sin taxes is ample proof of that. Does anyone know how much cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption went down once they were more heavily taxed? No, because not even (former health minister) Eugen Nicolescu, who introduced the new tax, cared much about that."

    cgh -- with wire reports
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...671334,00.html

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    I doubt they will really outlaw it, but tax it yes. Why. Very simple, despite their statements to the contrary that this tax is for fighting bad eating habits, there real reason is to make tax-money out of it. And if the tax does help reaching the claimed goal, they will come up with an other tax to compensate the losses from that tax.

    The real problem with obesity is not so much bad eating, but the fact that more Europeans have deskjobs, or spend most of their free time sitting in front of a TV-set. With other words the lack of movement. Now stimulating that will cost the government money and will not lead to a group of voters that automatically vote for a certain party, contrary to chronic welfare receivers. This because one can more physical training on a low budget. One does not need to go to the gym every week for it and the like. It can be a simple as taking a walk every day or so, or buying some weights and do some weightlifting at home.

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    This is what comes after socialist governments enact government-funded public health care. This proves to me that it is all a means to control the actions of the population by making everything a person does the buisness of the government.

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    Fast food isn't very healthy but obesity isn't a result of fast food eating alone. Peoples will keep buying it or buy something else, premade or less healthy. The reason is because peoples cook normal food less, they eat on the run and they don't exercise. The eating schedule matters too. Because many peoples don't eat breakfast, which is supposed to be an important meal of the day. They run quickly to arrive at work, and there they have brief or no lunchbreaks. So they eat consistently or at all only when they arrive home from work, usually in the evening and at night, when it's less indicated to eat because the fat accumulates more.

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    I believe in the promotion of encouraging people to adopt healthier lifestyles, but I do not believe that this is something that you can force on the people. While living a healthy life is essential and important, an obesity law is just too extreme.

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    Freedom for the sake of freedom, including the freedom to become nations of obese? Oh wait, it's already happening.



    Look what too much freedom, aka irresponsibility has brought into our countries. Obesity, vices, and the like.

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    It should be left to the individual to choose how they want to live, in England there is too much of a 'nanny state' which tells us what to eat when it should be left up to us.

    However it doesnt mean i condone obesity, for everyone knows that obesity is unhealthy to both the individual and the society they inhabit, but i believe that change should come about from the obese person's own descision, not forced on them by some tax or whatever.

    What the government can do to nip the problem in the bud is provide more sports facilities for children and encourage healthy living for the working class whose busy parents feed them junk food because of their cheapess and quickness.

    Despite this to make a mention of someone's overweightness as a negative is considered 'body-facist' by the PC brigade, showing just how hypocritical the government can be on such body issues.

    'A greedy man,
    if he be not moderate,
    eats to his mortal sorrow.
    Oftentimes his belly
    draws laughter on a silly man,
    who among the prudent comes.'
    Havamal

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    This is another example of 'big' government taking an opportunity to generate some money, through taxation, by recognizing the vices and extreme demands of it's society - like cigarettes and tobaccco. Obesity is a disease and a huge problem; the only way to combat it is through education and instilling, what I call, a 'health' discipline ethic to one's daily regimen which breaks free of the soft/sedentary lifestyles most live. As an avid Cross-fitter, one does NOT need a 'meat-market' gym to achieve a phenomenal level of fitness -- only a creative mind and a disciplined ethic; whether you're a farmer or professional football player or a university professor. Unfortunately, insecure and weak-willed massess of people seem to be mulitplying in both Europe and the USA, falling ill and prey to this sedentary way of modern life and giving 'big' government another carcass to feed on.

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    If the government were doing what it is supposed to do and looking out for the interests of the people, rather than trying to create more wealth and power for itself, this problem could be solved just as well. How? Well, let's look at how things have changed over the past few decades..

    Food products have been allowed to be altered or enhanced based almost solely upon profitability to the megacorp producing them. For example, the type of sugar in soft drinks was changed from natural sucrose to high fructose corn syrup, a chemical that causes the liver to work overtime processing it, and then processing it into fat more than energy. Why was this done? It was cheaper, so the company made more money at the expense of their customers' health. Trans fats were also introduced, as were other man-made ingredients such as chemical preservatives. Hormones were given to cows to make them produce more milk, but those who consumed that milk got fatter.

    So the unnatural additives in the food chain should be regulated and enforced. If only those megacorps didn't spend so much money buying legislators.

    People who once worked hard on farms or in factories now drive air conditioned farm machinery and operate robots that make things more efficiently. Children who used to go outside and play have been kept inside by video and computer entertainment and parent's fears of crime. In many schools, Physical education has been curtailed or eliminated due to budget concerns or worries over being sued if a child sustains an injury.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that this more sedentary lifestyle has caused the larger proportion of the problem. Maybe part of the reason that the USA is represented up there by the big round circle is that we have a culture built around the car rather than walking or biking. Aside from the dangers created by thuggish nonwhites to bikers or walkers, there are greater distances to travel here, which preclude biking and walking. These are societal problems, and really do need to be addressed somehow. Taxing chocolate or fast food really isn't good enough.

    One idea I've had for awhile is that people should have an electrical plug in their homes not for using energy, but for producing it. People could cut their energy bills and even make money by walking on their treadmill and feeding that power into a generator to go back into the grid. Any exercise equipment could be standardized to plug into the system. Make this easy to do and have heavy positive promotion for it, and people would have more incentive to exercise.. and it would be "green" as well.

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    The taxing is done for the money indeed. Because they've many budget problems in Romania. This year will be full of reduction in wages, reduction of employment and raising the prices for almost all products. Last year, all state employees were forced to take a 10 day unpaid vacation from work because there wasn't enough money. So the fast food tax is just another way of raising more money to sew the big hole in the budget. There isn't a realistic concern about people's health in my view.

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