Monday December 18, 2017

Kerela: First state of India to impose tax on Fast Food

The state government is imposing a 14.5 percent "fat tax" on fast goods sold by branded restaurants such as McDonalds and Pizza Hut

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Kerala imposes tax on Fast Foods. Image Source: e-sandesh.com
  • Vowing to combat rising levels of obesity—Kerala has the second highest levels of obesity in the country—the state government is imposing a 14.5 percent “fat tax” on fast goods sold by branded restaurants such as McDonalds and Pizza Hut
  • Strongly supporting the Kerala initiative, the doctor says, “We used to see diabetes 20 years back, diabetes in 50 or 40 years of age. Now we are seeing diabetes at 15 years of age, 18 years of age”
  • Global brands such as Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald’s have been ramping up their presence as the Indian fast food market grows exponentially while others such as Johnny Rockets, Burger King, Wendy’s and Barcelos have begun making forays

Customers in India’s southern state of Kerala will have to dig deeper into their pockets each time they want to order a juicy burger, a cheese-laced pizza or other fast food such as doughnuts and tacos.

Vowing to combat rising levels of obesity—Kerala has the second highest levels of obesity in the country—the state government is imposing a 14.5 percent “fat tax” on fast goods sold by branded restaurants such as McDonalds and Pizza Hut.

India’s first ‘fat tax’

Thomas Isaac, Kerala’s finance minister, says he took the cue from a handful of countries that have experimented with similar taxes.

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India’s first such tax in the scenic, coastal state will only affect a small section of the country’s increasingly affluent middle class, whose appetite for Western-style fast food has grown over the last decade-and-a-half. The measure has attracted national attention as India confronts growing levels of obesity.

Pizza Hut. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Pizza Hut. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Critics question if it will actually deter people from getting their fix of junk food, and skeptics suspect it is probably meant to garner more revenue. Doctors and nutritionists, however, say it is a long overdue first step in that the country urgently needs to address its expanding waistlines.

Addressing obesity

With half of Indians under 25, worries center on young people in particular.

Anoop Misra, who heads the Center for Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol at Fortis Hospital in New Delhi, has watched with rising alarm as more and more people in their 20’s and 30’s walk into his clinic.

Strongly supporting the Kerala initiative, the doctor says, “We used to see diabetes 20 years back, diabetes in 50 or 40 years of age. Now we are seeing diabetes at 15 years of age, 18 years of age.” Misra says he hopes the rest of the country will take the cue from the state’s fat tax.

McDonalds. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
McDonalds. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Global brands such as Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald’s have been ramping up their presence as the Indian fast food market grows exponentially while others such as Johnny Rockets, Burger King, Wendy’s and Barcelos have begun making forays. Fast food chains have not commented on the tax so far.

Money making initiative

The Kerala government has rejected suggestions that the tax aims to shore up its revenue, saying collections from such a tax will be small. Fast food outlets have a relatively small presence in the southern state compared to the north and the west.

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Minister Isaac, who proposed the tax, says he simply sees it as a signal to move back to traditional healthy eating, a practice he says is “going out of fashion.”

Finance minister of Kerala- Thomas Issac. Image Source: www.thehindu.com
Finance minister of Kerala- Thomas Issac. Image Source: www.thehindu.com

While acknowledging the need to target unhealthy food, many in Kerala point to local, deep-fried, highly popular local snacks and foods that are often sold at wayside stalls and restaurants. The owner of a café in Kerala’s Kochi city, Isaac Alexander, says the format does not seem fair as it excludes such food.

“One food that is eaten widely in Kerala is the “paratha.” It is high in fat, high in refined flour; it is cheap,” he said. “It can’t be taxed because it is highly unorganized,” he said.

Raising awareness, not taxing

Doctors and nutritionists agree that the tax needs to target a range of Indian snacks rich in trans fats that are sold throughout the country often on wayside stalls, as well as sugary drinks.

“Is it enough? I don’t think so. We need to go much beyond the burgers and the doughnuts and the French fries,” says Sheela Krishnaswamy, a nutritionist who heads the Indian Dietetic Association in Bangalore. “It needs to be done more scientifically. It needs to be done at what percentage of fat in a food can the fat tax begin.”

A customer in New Delhi who is enjoying burgers with his family does not agree. Vijay Deoli says governments should focus on more urgent priorities like pollution.

“First you have to clear up the air, the water; many things are there,” he said. “This is a small thing.”

Others say the government should focus more on raising awareness about fast food instead of using taxes to influence people’s choices.

Fast Food Tax. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Fast Food Tax. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“If you go by even developed countries, nowadays teachers or classrooms — they are training people, what should be eaten, and what should not be eaten,” says IT engineer Gaurav Singh.

Denmark, for example, scrapped a fat tax when it found that customers were picking up their quota of high fat goods from other countries.

Health experts agree that raising awareness is critical; but, Dr. Misra feels that education alone is not doing the trick.

“As I see every day, people, they are well aware of what is good and what is bad, they will [still] most of the time veer towards bad eating,” he said.

He compares the fat tax to a seatbelt law imposed some years back to force people to use seatbelts. “Everybody has a seatbelt. Previously nobody was wearing that, because there is a fine. So a certain amount of regulation has to be brought in to change the habits of the people.”

Source: VoaNews

Also Read:

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is a really good initiative not only from the economic point of view but also the healthy point of view

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Kidney disease may increase the risk of Diabetes: says a study

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Kidney disease may increase the risk of diabetes.
Kidney disease may increase the risk of diabetes. IANS

New York, Dec 12: If you are suffering from kidney dysfunction, you may be at high risk of developing diabetes, finds a study.

The risk may be attributed to the rising level of urea — the nitrogen-containing waste product in blood, which comes from the breakdown of protein in foods.

Kidneys normally remove urea from the blood, but it can build up when kidney function slows down, resulting in greater insulin resistance as well as secretion in the body.

“We have known for a long time that diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease, but now we have a better understanding that kidney disease, through elevated levels of urea, also raises the risk of diabetes,” said the Ziyad Al-Aly, Assistant Professor at the Washington University in St. Louis.

“When urea builds up in the blood because of kidney dysfunction, it often results in increased insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion,” Ziyad added.

The findings, published in the journal Kidney International, are significant because urea levels can be lowered through medication, diet — for example, by eating less protein — and other means, thereby allowing for improved treatment and possible prevention of diabetes, the researchers said.

For the study, the team evaluated the records of 1.3 million adults without diabetes over a five-year period, beginning in 2003.

Out of these, 117,000 of those without diabetes — or 9 per cent — had elevated urea levels, signalling poor kidney function and were at 23 per cent higher risk of developing diabetes. (IANS)

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Poor Dental Health can Lead to Obesity in Children

The study found a direct relationship between poor dental health leading to a rise in BMI (Body Mass Index) and extra body fat.

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Poor Dental Health can Lead to Obesity in Children
Poor Dental Health can Lead to Obesity in Children. Pixabay
  • Worried about your child’s obesity problems? It’s high time you curbed his love for sugary drinks and junk food. A little focus on dental care may also prevent your child gaining excess weight, says a new study.

The study found a direct relationship between poor dental health leading to a rise in BMI (Body Mass Index) and extra body fat.

“Weight can be a sensitive subject, but if you talk about eating behaviors alongside dental health, you are looking at the issue from a different angle,” said Louise Arvidsson, a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

“The question is whether a healthy diet can have the effect also in young children. There has been a lot of focus on physical activity and mental health in children, but diet is an increasingly recognized aspect.”

The researchers reviewed the eating behavior, body fat and dental health of 271 small children. The height, weight and food intake of the children were kept under observation for one day and then checked for the prevalence of cariogenic microorganisms in saliva.

The results found that the children who had a higher amount of carries bacteria also had higher BMI and worse eating habits.

The children were suggested to consume whole grain products, 400-500 grams of fruit and vegetables per day, fish two to three times a week and a low intake of sugar and saturated fat.

Arvidsson mentioned in the thesis, conducted at the University’s Sahlgrenska Academy, that with good food comes increased self-esteem, better relationships with friends and fewer emotional problems

Rather, parents who try to change the regime of their children by asking them to eat less during childhood can see serious repercussions of overweight problems in later life.(IANS)

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Intake of Coffee can Reduce the risk of Death for Kidney Patients

Drinking Coffee may increase the lifespan of patients with chronic kidney disease.

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Drinking Coffee reduces mortality in Kidney patients
Drinking Coffee reduces mortality in Kidney patients. Pixabay
  • Want to live longer? Charge up on your cup of coffee. According to a study, caffeine consumption may prolong the lifespan of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Drinking coffee can Reduce mortality 

The findings showed a dose-dependent inverse association between caffeine and all-cause mortality.

People who had the highest intake of coffee had 24 percent lower risks of dying, while those in the second, third quartile of caffeine consumption had 12 percent and 22 percent lower risk.

“These results suggest that advising patients with CKD to drink more caffeine may reduce their mortality. This would represent a simple, clinically beneficial, and inexpensive option,” said Miguel Bigotte Vieira from Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Norte, in Portugal.

However, “this benefit should ideally be confirmed in a randomised clinical trial”, Vieira added.

For the study, the team examined the association of caffeine consumption with mortality among 2328 patients with CKD. The results will be presented at the ongoing ASN Kidney Week 2017 in New Orleans.

Moreover, this observational study cannot prove that drinking coffee reduces the risk of death in patients with CKD, but only suggests the possibility of such a protective effect, Vieira stressed.

Drinking coffee can also reduce diabetes risk, revealed a reported in the American Chemical Society Journal of Natural Products.(IANS)