View Full Version : Tax to keep the population slim and fit

22-11-07, 23:07
Physically exercise make people loose weight and stay fit. Fitter people work better, are more productive and in better mood. This is a desireable asset for members of a society.

One way to encourage people to exercise is to set up a system of tax rebate for people who do sports or fitness.

It would be difficult to control the way people exercise. Membership to a sports club alone does not guarantee that people actually go there. A system of attendance card can always be counterfeited.

We could imagine testing physical performances of individuals every year, or every 3 years, and assess the progress achieved. For instance, the test could include such things as :

- running on a conveyor belt with an analysis of the cardiac rythm
- measuring the change in muscle mass, or fat-muscle ratio
- controlling the body weight

Testing the progress only would give an advantage to people who were not used to exercise before. So it would be better to have a benchmark for each criteria based on the gender and age.

People would obtain a tax rebate in proportion to their closeness to the "ideal fitness results" for their age and gender, but also based on progress made since the last year. This way, both people already fit and those trying hard to be fitter would benefit (no pun intended) from this system.

This also gives total freedom to people as to how to exercise, be it doing a particular sport, go jogging in the park, join the gym, or just do some press-ups at home. A better diet can also help.

The only ones not getting money in the process would be those who do not do anything to keep healthy.

The money spared by the government would most likely be gained back from a higher productivity nationwide, hence more corporate taxes, and maybe also a higher consumption (fitter people are more active, go out more, work more, get more money, spend more money...).

Just a proposal which I think is worth considering for governments across Europe. I am sure that President Sarkozy would appreciate. ;-)

04-12-07, 23:19
Why not simplu reduce the price of healthy foods instead of threatening people with taxes or taking away health services. If we had a fat tax on food, it'd probably make peopel think twice before buying them. The cheapest foods are usually unhealthy ready-made foods when vegetables and fruit are usually quite expensive atleast over here.

Also I think that proper education about healthy eating habist in schools is important. It's not exaclty helpful if kids are served hamburgers and fries every day. People learn their eating habits at home so if they learn poor eating habits and the only other exposure is hamburgers, what do we expect to get as a result. Also I think another problem is students who don't eat at school and prefer to snack on candy and soda instead of a proper meal. This not only has a poor effect on your health but also on your concentration. I think atleast a part of the kids at school nowadays described as ADHD or troublesome actually simply don't sleep enough or eat properly.

05-12-07, 15:14
Hmm, I think Mac's idea is good in principle and better than heavily taxing unhealthy food, but possibly it might go against people who can't achieve that ideal body standard due to ill health. Maybe they could have some kind of doctor signed exemption form?

A big problem - how to 'make' people be healthy. It's not easy! Whole lifestyle changes are needed, so I think a combination of convenience and education is necessary... convenience to enable people to easily get hold of healthy food and do exercise, and education so that they can make informed choices. For example, when you know how to cook, you can make a simple, healthy meal very quickly and cheaply - more quickly even than throwing something in the microwave. But it will take at least a generation to 'control' people's habits in this way.

I do blame unhealthy foods to some extent because a lot of prepackaged food has things added to it that are not necessary and increase the fat, salt and sugar contents, often simply to provide what is allegedly 'more' flavour, or for preservative, but it's really not necessary - with slightly different chemical components you could take that 'bad stuff' out of the item and end up with something that probably would taste just as good.

Preservation I also think has something to do with all these bad habits; fresh food is generally more good for you, but we are so used to having foods that have an unnaturally long shelf life, achieved by preservatives which often contain a lot of salt, and fat to bulk them out, and sugar to add 'flavour'... unnecessary in my view.

As for exercise, I also blame busy lifestyle (yes I can be guilty of that myself), and think it would be a really good thing if employers learned to build some exercise time into people's working day. The workforce would be healthier, more 'awake' and enthusiastic in my view. I know a lot people who would love to exercise more but feel time pressure and especially in relation to work and unaccommodating employers.

05-12-07, 22:32
Why not simplu reduce the price of healthy foods instead of threatening people with taxes or taking away health services.

Amd what is healthy food exactly ? Organic ? Vegetables and fruits ? Dairy ? Almost anything can be good given the right dosage. The important is to eat varied food.

Anyway it is not the government that decides on food prices, but sellers. Two equally healthy yoghurts from different brands can have very different prices, just because one brand is famous and better marketed. Likewise, many of the so-called "diet food" and organic products are more expensive because they cost more to produce. Buying a freshly squeezed orange juice at the supermarket cost much more than to squeeze the oranges yourself. Service is also to be taken into account in prices.

05-12-07, 22:38
A big problem - how to 'make' people be healthy. It's not easy! Whole lifestyle changes are needed, so I think a combination of convenience and education is necessary...

It depends so much on each individual that it is pointless to have a government policy on food and so on to influence people's health. In the end it all comes down to personal motivation, lifestyle and maybe also genes. People should be free to adapt their lifestyle as they wish to be fit and healthy. Some need more exercise than others. Some need better diet. Some don't need much. One of the best motivation to change lifestyle is to have monetary incentives. That almost always works - except for the rich, but stats show that obese and unhealthy people are more numerous among the lower classes.