Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tax the Fat

Last week saw the broadcasting of a controversial documentary "Tax the Fat" by Giles Coren. Giles went on a quest to seek opinions on whether fat people should be taxed in order to save the NHS £1 billion; money which is spent on obesity-related diseases every year. Two out of three adults in the UK are overweight or obese at the moment. Considering predictions of an exponential increase in average weight, he proposes that people with a Body Mass Index above 30 should be forced to pay higher taxes, thus shifting the burden away from those living a healthier lifestyle.

While the documentary was certainly thought-provoking and generated some good arguments (should overweight air commuters pay "excess baggage" fines?), I found the style of the commentary to be somewhat prejudiced and unnecessarily harsh at times.

Interestingly, Giles is a food critic and columnist for The Times and GQ magazine.

Below is a snippet from the documentary.

Did anyone else watch this documentary? What are your views?


aj said...

This was rather a strange documentary, that presented a perfectly reasonable theory, was well researched, and yet wasn't quite delivered in the right way. Giles Coren himself needed more introduction for context, and seemed half-heartedly passionate about his ideas, chickening out from presenting his project at the crucial moments, but being unafraid to jeer at 'fatties' when he had the chance.

I think this documentary could have delivered so much more. It was largely theoretical, and perjorative, but was based on really quite a sensible idea, which despite being controversial, was marketed in an inappropriate way in the film. People are sensitive about their weight and no-one wants to be told what to do. In fact, I read today that peer groups are much more successful in promoting change than a doctor's advice.

Basically there was no need for the flippant, derogatory approach to what is a serious problem. It detracted from the show and made light of a solution which doesn't even need to be implemented to be successful.

Tackling obesity is all about prevention, and any Fat Tax should look at weight gain, rather than being overweight. This is why I feel a smoking ban a good health move - it stops new people taking it up, and helps those already smoking to quit.

Taz said...

Thanks for your comments AJ. I agree about the prevention strategy. Already the measures the government are taking such as displaying food content on packaging in a clearer, simpler fashion and the "Five A Day" campaign seem to be working. The obesity problem needs to be tackled in a population-orientated way as this is likely to be more effective. This would mean encouraging loss of weight as well as making it more difficult for people to gain excessive weight in the first place. By educating the whole population the process seems less offensive and doesn't lead to stigmatisation of one group. That said, I do feel that theoretically his idea is a good one. Perhaps it just needs a little modification and Mr Coren needs to work on his mode of delivery.

Bobby Silby said...

Oh god thats me going off calling him a fascist. Essentially what they did was he wound us up for about 2 hours and then only showed the couple of minutes near the end of us all worked up.

Memo said...

Native Jacks™ Release Video to Tax the Fat©

February 18, 2013 – Native Jacks™ release a video to Tax the Fat. The video is based on the group's song by the same name that offers a solution to the healthcare crisis and excessive government debt. The projections for healthcare benefits on entitlements and the excessive debt from the US Treasury are unsustainable. These problems are the some of the more difficult problems of our times. Native Jacks™ provides a creative solution in their new song, Tax the Fat©. The video helps educate Americans regarding the current state of these public issues and how America can remain strong in spite of these challenges. The song recommends the use of a sin tax to help cover the cost of America’s unhealthy eating habits. The song has been successfully incorporated into a YouTube video.

Tax the Fat© Video by Native Jacks™ at

About Native Jacks™ - Native Jacks is an alternative/slow rock band that wanders through many music genres and styles. The band writes, records and produces its own music telling stories of social injustice, human struggles, reflection and redemption. Many of the band’s social commentaries include creative solutions to today’s most pressing problems.

Native Jacks band members include Jim and Memo with occasional help from other artists. Jim plays acoustic and electric guitar. Memo plays keyboard and bass guitar. Both share duties with vocals. Native Jacks raised its banner in December 2012 with its first recorded collection, “Markin’ Territory”.

In addition to the song Tax the Fat, the Markin’ Territory collection includes a rock vibe in Water on Water, calypso beats in Ana Maria, new age rhythms in Sonoran Skies, country swagger in Body Bag, a heavy metal feel in Number Nine, the final song entitled Tax the Fat (Supersized) - now with 50% more words and music, and much more. The Markin' Territory music collection creates an overall “American” feel that embodies this country's ever-changing exceptional collection. All songs are owned with copyright protection by Immigrant Creations LLC or Memo, LLC. Native Jacks is a registered trademark of Native Jacks LLC. All right are reserved.

For more information about the band, visit Native Jacks' website at