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Hungary's "Fat Tax"

With obesity at 18.8% of the population and health care costs, Hungary has just implemented a ten forint (about $.50 tax) on fatty and sugary foods to cover health costs. So what exactly are Hungarians hungry for?
The dobostorta cake, a five-layer vanilla and chocolate buttercream dessert with a caramel-glazed top layer, is probably Hungary's best-known treat -- at least after goulash. The cake can be seen in the vitrines of coffee houses and bakery shops lining the streets of Budapest.

"Hungarians are really into desserts," said Carolyn Banfalvi, co-founder of Taste Hungary. The tour company operator describes Hungarian food in general as "very fatty," with traditional cooking ingredients that include pork and goose fat. "What they call bacon here is often pieces of pure lard," she said.

The Hungarian government argues that this kind of diet is also leading to obesity and increased health problems, and that those who partake in indulgences like sweets should also pay a premium to help offset those costs. Enter the "fat tax."


Other European nations are considering the same, despite the suggestion that education and/or subsidies for healthy fruits and veggies would be more effective.  With about two-thirds of Americans being overweight or obese, should the United States follow suit?

Link -via reddit

depends.. unfortunately we still live in a time when nutritionists and government regulators believe that fats make you fat when evidence shows otherwise. people are now hoping the lipid hypothesis, which was based on bad science, will be dropped in the next decade.

taxing food with fats would make our situation worse. already the financially poor must decide between cheap foods with government subsidized corn byproducts that contain an incredible amount of carbohydrates or the relatively expensive meats and vegetables.

hungary at least got it right to tax on the sweets.
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There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with animal fats and cooking with them. I use bacon fat and coconut oil all the time. Saturated fats are not the devil.

At least they realize the sugar part is bad though.
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So, um.

This seems like an incredibly appalling attempt by a government to control people's behavior. How is this neat?
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You can live your entire life without eating carbohydrates. Your body needs fats and proteins to survive, not carbs. Carbs are only for energy, while fats and proteins are used for repairing and rebuilding muscle and much more. 1000 calories of carbs = 1000 calories of work to get rid of them. 1000 calories of fat and protein = maybe 900 (or less) work to get rid of them.

The next problem is that according to a number of studies, fat people (and smokers amazingly) actually cost less in medical care than their thin counterparts.

Seems they dying early part actually puts less of a strain on medical costs than living a long time.
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When I visited Hungary, I thought they were in superb shape. They must keep their obese off the tourist paths. America looked _fat_ when I got back...
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I've lost 30 lbs. eating mostly fat and a decent amount of protein, very few carbohydrates and no sugar. Same amount of exercise before and after. Calories in do not equal calories out.
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Promoting healthy foods might be more effective, but I like the philosophy behind this.

Everybody is quick to rally behind smoking bans and the like, but it's time people started realizing unhealthy food is not... healthy either. So far they have gotten a totally free reign.
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@K Lawrence, that's a bit of an oversimplification. Carbohydrates, which the body converts to glucose, is the primary source of energy utylised by the central nervous system for brain and nerve function. If carbs aren't available, the body can use fats or proteins for this purpose though.
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It's one thing to try to discourage people from eating unhealthy food - they also have to then provide an alternative in the same price range. If you only have X amount of money to live on, raising the price of food is not going to make your nutrition any better - now not only are you eating crap, but you're not eating enough of anything. If governments feel they have to do something, they should be encouraging healthy foods, making them more affordable for everyone. Healthy food should not be something you have to be rich to have on a regular basis.
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