|No amount of tax will result in better health|
by Mike O'Connor||14 Dec 2018|
|General News - Page 34 - 1486 words - ID 1051061927 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 499.00cm2|
SOMETIMES you need an academic to tell you where you're going wrong. Or we lesser mortals would wander aimlessly through the darkness of our own ignorance vainly seeking enlightenment.
This week, for example, we were treated to the Assessing CostEffectiveness of Obesity Prevention Policies in Australia report prepared by researchers at the University of Queensland and Deakin University.
Releasing the report, co-author and Associate Professor Gary Sacks said: "Alcohol is high in calories with a pint of beer almost on a par with a chocolate bar, so consumption can have a big impact on daily energy intake." Really? Just to get this straight, and I confess that I've never been terribly good at sums, does this mean that the more beer and/or chocolate bars I consume, the fatter I'll get?
Let's presume so. It would, I suppose, be a faint hope that an increase in consumption would lead to a decrease in weight.
No free Mars bars for guessing that the same report decided the best way to tackle obesity was to impose taxes on sweet drinks, ban junk food advertising to children, and increase taxes on a range of alcoholic drinks.
What we need is more government action so all those people who haven't worked out that the more beer you drink and the more chocolate you eat, the bigger you will get, will realise the error of their ways.
Eager to be seen to be doing something, the Queensland Government is looking at setting up a Healthy Futures Commission and Queensland Health is spending $45 million in 2018-19 on preventive health programs. That's $45 million down the toilet where it will be flushed out to sea with all the other millions that have told people to drink less beer, eat less chocolate and exercise.
Full marks to whoever came up with the title of Healthy Futures Commission, which comes with images of a future in which Queenslanders, aglow with their new-found, government-inspired health frolic on grassy fields and sun-kissed beaches.
Then there is the reality in which many people are too self-indulgent to rein in their appetites. They ram pastries and fried foods down their throats because they like the taste.
You would have to be incredibly stupid not to appreciate in this multimedia digital age that consuming sugar and grease is not a good thing.
This means the Government is targeting those who are incredibly stupid or don't care. You can't convince a person to be self-disciplined when they are not interested in doing so.
You can throw money at them and create Healthy Futures programs and commission catchy TV ads that they will watch while sprawled on the couch and slamming down a brace of KitKats.
What if KitKats were to be more expensive, courtesy of a sugar tax?
Would these same people suddenly join a gym and start eating kale sandwiches on wholemeal bread? Of course not. They'll find something less expensive and equally unhealthy. You can't tax people into health.
To suggest that banning advertisements of junk food will prevent kids from eating these products is equally fatuous. Walk through food courts and you will see advertisements urging you to indulge in a hundred artery-clogging delights.
Are the outlets to be painted beige and their offerings hidden behind blinds, the less to tempt children into succumbing to their blandishments?
Such moves also overlook the inconvenient truth that it is parents who buy junk food for their kids. If parents are so weak willed as to give into their child's demands for a burger with fries less they throw a tantrum, then what chance has a government program got of changing this? None.
Alcohol puts on weight. Drunk to excess, it can kill you. The reasoning then is if the taxation regimen is changed, people will drink less.
The previous federal Labor government had an inglorious shot at this by boosting the tax on pre-mixed drinks to stop young people getting drunk at nightclub precincts. Instead of drinking pre-packaged, diluted drinks, they now consume their own mixed drinks at home that are invariably stronger than the pre-mixed variety and end up drunker than ever. Brilliant! An inevitable consequence of changing the alcohol tax will be to make it more difficult for those on lower incomes to afford bulk alcohol such as casks. The wealthy can keep slurping their Bin 707 but the poor will, in theory, be forced to drinkA. P. GREENFIELD a9 less.
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