Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fat Tax?

I was just reading an article from last weekend's Saskatoon StarPhoenix about the issue of implementing a Canadian junk food tax. I have written other posts about creating a healthy food environment and this fits right in.

I can see that it is a difficult issue and that there are valid arguments coming from both sides. It's great that people are wanting to change things for the better, but I still don't think we've figured out the right way to do that. The article has some startling statistics:

"Currently, 59% of adult Canadians are either overweight or obese"

"The average Canadian drinks about 73 litres of pop annually. Teenagers in particular, indulge in sugary drinks. On any given day in Canada, 53% of boys and 35% of girls aged 14-18 will drink a regular soft drink."

I remember when pop and chips and sweets were a treat, yet today they are everywhere we turn. Almost any store you enter will have these high calorie, low nutrient foods at a low price and as mentioned it is the teenagers who are drinking a lot of the pop - these are the generations where we can take steps to prevent future chronic diseases and weight problems.

Yes, it sounds like a tax grab, but the supporters are saying that the benefit would come from using that tax money for exercise programs, nutrition education, and to subsidize healthier foods. The opponents state that no single food or beverage is uniquely linked to obesity - but the excess calories are.

Over many generations we have done this to ourselves - we have Tim Horton's on almost every corner, but we don't have grocery stores in our downtown areas. When a problem develops over decades, it takes time to create change. I always talk to my clients about small steps towards a larger goal - these things don't happen over night. Somewhere along the way we decided that we don't like to have to work for things and if they're not easy we often give up.

These are our lives, this is our health - we only get one shot, so what are you doing today to be healthy??

Steph Wheler