No tax on junk food? It’s just too hard to swallow


This piece first appeared in:

Daily Telegraph

Herald Sun

BACK in primary school, I was the fat kid. That was about 30 years ago.

But in primary school these days they all seem to be fat kids.

Now I’m an adult, nobody ever calls me fat. Occasionally I get tubby, slightly plump, and festive. Never the fatty, fatty boomba of old, and it’s been decades since anyone asked me to do a truffle shuffle.

It’s not because I’ve lost weight; it hasn’t changed since I finished high school, but the rest of society has piled on the pud.

Have a look around. Australia is the land of the fatties.

More than 65 per cent of us are overweight or obese. It’s a number that’s constantly growing, along with our waistlines and requests on domestic flights for a seatbelt extension. That’s an extra bit of seatbelt for someone too fat for a normal one.

And why are these people still allowed to sit in economy? Next to me? With their flab spilling over the armrests and into my lap?

People say it’s a lifestyle choice, it’s their body, and they should be free to do what they want with it. And I agree, up to a point.

You want to murder yourself with fried things? Kill yourself with cola? Choke yourself with chocolate? You go for it. But it shouldn’t be free, because someone always ends up paying for it.

Over in the UK, where there’s a slightly smaller percentage of lard arses, a 2014 study found obesity is reaching crisis proportions.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, obesity costs the UK £47 billion annually. Which is about the same as smoking and wars, and greater than alcoholism.

The odds you’ll die from heart disease are one in five, and from cancer they’re one in seven. And the top two causes of those two sicknesses are diet and obesity.

Number three is smoking, and alcohol is up there too.

Those risky and preventable behaviours actually cause about 40 per cent of the most common cancers.

So if it’s killing us, why do we keep eating so much junk food?

The same reason people smoke, drink and gamble to excess.

We’re addicted.

Whenever you crave a food, it’s never because you need it. That’s our brain calling for things that hit pleasure centres and release dopamine.

Society handles other addictive substances by making them illegal, or taxing them heavily and restricting advertising and distribution.

The idea is to reduce the consumption of addictive things, thus protecting us stupid and easily addicted humans. The taxes then help pay for its cost to society. Well, that’s the theory, anyway.

So why is junk food exempt? Why is it so special?

It’s staggering to me that the food and drink that’s slowly killing us is way cheaper and more available than the stuff that’s good for us and isn’t a banana.

It’s at supermarkets, service stations, sporting events, public swimming pools. It’s everywhere.

It’s the equivalent of making air more expensive than cigarettes and water more expensive than beer. Which in some places, it is.

Conspiracy theory morons are always on about how September 11 never happened, nobody landed on the moon, and planes release mind-control drugs.

It’s all crap.

But the way junk food is marketed and sold without tax or restriction is a conspiracy that’s happening right in front of us, on a global scale, and nobody’s doing anything about it.

Seriously, why the hell isn’t there a tax on junk food?


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This piece first appeared in:

Daily Telegraph

Herald Sun