Wrong-headed approaches to combat obesity

  • MSNBC/Reuters: Ireland mulls ‘fat tax’ to curb obesity — Levy on high-fat foods aimed at battling expanding waistlines
      DUBLIN, Ireland, Aug. 26 — Ireland, noted for fried breakfasts of epic proportions, is chewing over the possibility of a special tax on fatty foods to tackle rising obesity levels.

      FACED WITH AN epidemic of expanding waistlines as the Irish enjoy unprecedented prosperity, Health Minister Micheal Martin confirmed he was “very tentatively” examining slapping a levy on high-fat comestibles.

      A proliferation of restaurants and fast-food joints during the country’s celebrated “Celtic Tiger” boom of the late 1990s and an increasingly sedentary national lifestyle are among factors blamed for a rise of nearly 70 percent in the number of those overweight or obese over the last decade.

      “Some 60 percent of our population is now either overweight or obese and we would welcome any initiative (by the government) to tackle the problem,” Michael O’Shea, chief executive of the Irish Heart Foundation, told Reuters.

      Figures earlier this year showed 14 percent of Irish men and 12 percent of Irish women were obese. Some 32 percent of Irish children were overweight and 10 percent classified obese.

      News the government is eyeing high-fat snacks follows recent moves to crack down on alcohol abuse — including a ban on pub “happy hours” — and a national furore over plans to prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants from next January.

    There’s a big problem with this idea… eating fatty foods does not cause obesity. It makes sense on the surface but it is wrong. The real issue is blood sugar levels, and millions of folks around the world are discovering that a low-fat diet is recipe for obesity, and rather a better option is to eat a high-protein, low carb, vitamin-rich diet.

    Dr. Atkins has been the main proponent of this way of eating and was laughed at by the so-called experts, but now he is being vindicated not only by the many who are losing weight on his recommended diet and lifestyle (I’ve lost 23 pounds thus far by doing it), but also by the growing amount of medical evidence that shows the healthful benefits of low cab eating.

    Anyway it seems to me that the Irish are going at this all wrong. It would be far better to emphasize the positive (provide healthy school lunches, provide government subsidies for restaurants that serve healthy food, etc.) than to try to penalize bad behavior, particular when the thing they are trying to penalize in fact is the real problem. Eating fatty foods is not bad for you in and of itself. It all depends on what kinds of fat you are eating and whether your blood sugar levels are running correctly or not.