State Imposes Massive ‘Fat Tax’ on Fast Food, Hopes to Curb Obesity

Tina Rivera
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Because obesity is a huge problem in the world and we as humans possess little to no self-control, one state in India is imposing a “fat tax” on major fast food chains with hopes of deterring consumers from pigging out on unhealthy fare.

The astounding 14.5 percent tax, put in place by a newly elected government in Kerala, India, will affect restaurant goers who frequently dine at popular American establishments including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and Domino’s. Expecting to take a major hit by the tax, fast food companies are worried customers who don’t want to pay the heftier price for quick-service food will withdraw from their restaurants altogether – resulting in slumping sales.

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According to the National Health Survey report in 2015, Kerala has the second-highest rate of childhood obesity in India after Punjab, with one out of every two students in a 1,500-school study facing lifestyle diseases that are likely impacted by food choices. The 14.5 percent fat tax will affect branded restaurants that include junk food items such as pizzas, burgers, doughnuts, unhealthy sandwiches, and tacos.

Back in 2011, Denmark imposed a similar tax to limit the amount of fat consumed by its population—any food containing more than 2.3 percent of saturated fat was subject to a surcharge. Similarly, the state of Bihar in India imposed a 13.5 percent tax on sweets and salted nuts.

While America has yet to see a fat tax, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While fat taxes are intended to discourage the consumption of fast food, it appears only time will tell if the bill will actually reduce obesity rates among children in Kerala.  

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