Saturday, 24 May 2014

A logical reponse to the obesity "epidemic"


I know, I know - there is no obesity epidemic. But assuming for a second that the nannying fussbuckets and health fascists are right the cause is simple - food is too cheap.

...the authors say widespread availability of inexpensive food appears to have the strongest link to obesity. They write: “Americans are spending a smaller share of their income (or corresponding amount of effort) on food than any other society in history or anywhere else in the world, yet get more for it.” In the 1930s, Americans spent one-quarter of their disposable income on food. By the 1950s, that figure had dropped to one-fifth. The most recent data show the share of disposable income spent on food is now under one-tenth.

The figures won't be much different for the UK, perhaps a little higher. There is no doubt that, despite the efforts of the food producers to fix the system in their favour through protectionism, our food is as cheap as it has ever been. And we know that making things more expensive is a great way to reduce consumption - works for booze and fags, will work for food too. As Tim Worstall points out:

...if we really want to solve the obesity crisis (I don’t, it’s not one of the things that worries me but there are those out there) then we’re going to have to make food more expensive again. And that of course means taxing it. And taxing it viciously as well. Just to get back to the relative prices of the 1950s (when Americans were already markedly larger than the rest of the world) would imply a 100% tax on food, to get to the 30s would mean a 200% one.

Instead we get proposals for advertising bans, for stopping countline displays and for taxes on specific ingredients (sugar, fat, salt). Plus planning controls, hassling and hounding food retailers and the demonising of perfectly healthy fast food products.

Of course we don't need to do anything at all. But the tip-pot little fascists who think we should have their answer - make food more expensive. But they wouldn't dare would they!


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