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Conservative MP calls for a 'fat tax'
Photo: DPA

Conservative MP calls for a 'fat tax'

Published: 22 Jul 2010 14:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Jul 2010 14:55 GMT+02:00

Overweight people and others who pursue unhealthy lifestyles should have to pay more into Germany's healthcare system to cover the extra costs they create, a conservative politician said on Thursday.

Marco Wanderwitz, a federal MP from the state of Saxony and head of the conservative Christian Democrats’ group of young parliamentarians, said the health costs created by fat people should not forever be borne by the rest of the community.

“The question must be admitted whether the immense costs that, for example, arise from excessive consumption of food, can be permanently paid out of the consolidated health system,” he told daily Bild.

“I think it’s sensible that people who knowingly live unhealthily carry a responsibility for it in a financial respect.”

Wanderwitz, 34, describes himself on his website as a keen squash and football player.

Health economist Jürgen Wasem joined the call, demanding that Germany consider a “chocolate tax.”

“One should, as with tobacco, tax the purchase of unhealthy consumer goods at a higher rate and partly maintain the health system. That applies to alcohol, chocolate or risky sporting equipment such as hang-gliders.”

According to the Bild report, one study has found that fat people cost the health system €17 billion a year.

Opposition Social Democrats health spokesman Karl Lauterbach sharply rejected the idea that the overweight should pay higher contributions to the statutory health insurance system, describing it as an idiotic suggestion.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:36 July 22, 2010 by freechoice
how about taxing the friendly neighbourhood currywurst imbiss?

what about tax for noise pollutions, like muscle cars, bikes and freight trains, which are causing sleepless nights for residents living near roads and railway tracks?

sleepless nights can cause bad health, and bad health require more health coverage!

what do you think?
17:37 July 22, 2010 by Harry Latour
I am I must confess rather enjoying this one,,,,,now all those 'noshers' who probably took great delight in seeing the smokers persecuted,,can now find out what it IS like to be singled out.But don't worry fatties,,,as a Brit who has already been through the smokers demise they will not do much to worry you,,,,,too many fat politico's you see!!
18:28 July 22, 2010 by dcgi
Owain: yes, the fat people of this world love to think it's not their fault that they're fat, it's not, it's the eleven packets of Doritos you eat a night.

Why you get fat is easily understoof... if you're putting in more calories than you burn then you'll get fat, pretty bloody simple. Metabolism is just the rate at which your body burns the energy it's not some magical word you can pull out to try and not blame fat people for being fat as most do (they often blame it in the 3rd person like Mr. Metabolism comes to their house, pins them down and shoves cake into their face).

If you are medically overweight you should get charged more in insurance. If obese, a lot more.
18:34 July 22, 2010 by dcgi
Well unless you want everyone to have to take a full medicals then there's not much you can do about that right now. Getting this sorted will save the "everything in moderation" people so much money.
19:09 July 22, 2010 by Eagle1
I love this idea, and I hope that it gets traction in the US. 80% of the health care costs in the US are caused by 20% of the fattest people. If you want to be fat, then pay for it. I'm happy to pay for the medical costs of people who suffer conditions over which they have no control, BUT fatties have full control over their fat, but they're just lazy undisciplined people. I have no desire to pay for their sloth. Screw 'em.
20:38 July 22, 2010 by jillesvangurp
"keen squash and football player" those are two sports with a high amount of expensive injuries. I do hope that the "Helmut Kohl" tax (at least he seems to fit the bill of being grossly overweight) extends to that as well.

Seriously. Health insurance is overly expensive to begin with in Germany. Instead of cutting the service level with vague & cheap populist crap like this, maybe it is time to put the insurers and pharmaceutical companies on a diet of delivering better value for money? I pay more than twice as much insurance fees than I used to in Finland or the Netherlands. And I get exactly nothing in return.
22:18 July 22, 2010 by BR549
This is is just another ploy to generate revenue, or "creative taxing". Jeezus, why haven't Germans devised the "air tax" whereby lungs are measured and people are taxed on the volume of their lung capacity and oxygen consumed? This continual BS politicians dream up in this country is truly amazing and continues to demean Government and the people's belief in it.
23:15 July 22, 2010 by authun
@Pas

lol

(the lousy board filter wouldn't let me write "LOL" and it promptly deleted my original message [must be DE software] to add to the stupidity)
00:07 July 23, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
And while we're at it let's charge more for older people and those that are involved in risky sport activities. Another example of weasel insurance and politics...
00:24 July 23, 2010 by whatzup
Never mind this fat tax stuff, lets just agree to tax people more who don't have the same opinion I do.
01:07 July 23, 2010 by sorochin
The 4 sweetest words in English: "I told you so". Once you give the health fascists an inch, they take mile after mile. coming soon: alarmist claptrap on alcohol and how the the government must act to curb consumption.
01:33 July 23, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, the first airline in America, the Tampa/St. Petersburg AirBoat Line, they charged each passenger $5, but overweight passenger extra. This was way back around 1918. And so, it really is appropriate to change more based upon the extra cost incurred by the service provider.

I must however admit, that for the most part, real change comes only through psychology. They keep making it more and more expensive for those who want to smoke, and yet people continue to pay the higer prices.

"Change the mind, change the behavior."
01:39 July 23, 2010 by Harry Latour
@logic Guy,,,(alcohol),,,it has already happened in England today,,,the new coalition government is about to overturn our 24Hr drinking laws brought in by the previous 'gov.Still,,,,I knew even when they voted IN the 24Hr law it would never be enough!!
03:56 July 23, 2010 by Canadianhaggis
Every country in the world is scheming to come up with new ways to grab more money out of peoples pockets. And as if this money will be saved for only those who are fat when the time comes.It will be spent as fast as it comes in.
09:16 July 23, 2010 by chimpansi
Following needs to be done:

a) Tax cigarettes more. Its still cheap. Ban smoking everywhere & ask the smoker to pay for using smoking zone.

b) Add more tax for alcohol. Liquor is still cheap.

c) Make sure no cheap version of beer or wine or any form of alcohol is sold in Lidl,Aldi. Beer should be sold at min rate of 3.20 per bottle(330ml).

d) Increase cost of wurst. Replace frozen meat section with a proper Metzgerei. With that people will buy lesser and needed quantity.

f) Subsidise fitness centers & bicycles

g) Make sure the escalators & lifts in U-bahn/S-Bahn work with some sort of access card ie., only for disabled & elderly. If the rest wants to use it make them pay & use.

h) Tax all fried foods, chocalates & Ice-cream

i) 100% tax on Sugar. Its too cheap.

j) Tax all frozen & processed foods. Also make the buyer pay for disposing the garbage.

k) Ban use of plastic vessels & boxes which can be used for storing, re-heating food

I can go on.. but I guess I will get killed if I add more.. :)
10:04 July 23, 2010 by 23Dan
Most people I know who play sport have had at least one trip to A&E or treatment from their GP at the taxpayer's expense, how about a football tax?
10:26 July 23, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I agree with Don Riina. Legalize weed, tax it and make everybody happy. It won't abate the obesity problem though, because smoking weed gives everybody the munchies. This is an example of the law of unintended consequences.

However, weed should be legalized and appropriately taxed.
15:06 July 23, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Just put everyone in the reserves and increase yearly mandatory training until the fat is dripping off in foxholes.
01:03 July 24, 2010 by beeker
Just set Insurance rates on Body Mass Index. 25 or less, no extra premium. 26 equals1 percent surcharge, 36 equals 10 percent and so on.

Smokes and drinks can be taxed prorated on the damage that they do.

Hard drugs use is self limiting and users would need to be rated for future rehab.
11:52 July 24, 2010 by Dogs_Gonads
@ dcgi

Anyone who has a genuine problem, i.e., something that isn't by choice.. e.g., overweight because of a thyroid problem, should of course be exempt from any such higher taxation, that would be simple enough to implement via a doctor's diagnosis on the patient.

Great idea,that would make me exempt,my girlfriend and most other overweight people.

That is the biggest health problem people suffer from in Europe.

http://www.thyroid.org/patients/patient_brochures/weight.html
14:13 July 24, 2010 by Harry Latour
@beeker,,I think you may be onto something regarding the 'hard drugs',maybe finding a happy medium in the quantities of ''pies'' consumed versus ''heroin'' used and there would be some sort of normality, weight wise!!
17:16 July 24, 2010 by criticalthinker
YOU FOOLS, YOU FOOLS. Take this Marco Wanderwitz and run him out of town. Can't you see what this is all going to lead to. Complete control of your lives.Today it is the fat kids, tomorrow it will be the too skinney kids. On and on this will go until these fool politicians gain control of your your very existance. What is wrong with you Germans, you went through government control of everything once before. Conservative, Liberal, Nazi, Communist, Socialist, Progressive, who cares what they are called they all want to control the people. REMEMBER the least government has the power to do the better everyones life is. As I write this we in the U.S. are going through somewhat the same as you Germans are. Obama and his fools want to control everything. Can't wait until election time here to rid our country of these vermin.
06:26 July 25, 2010 by thequeen09@att.net
I am really enjoying this. How many of you are non-smokers? Gee, I seem to remember how badly smokers were treated when the smoking ban started. I also clearly remember stating that this is government taking away our freedoms a little at a time. I guess because I am not a heavy person and have not had any health issues (even as a smoker for 30 yrs) and have paid in more money for insurance than I have used I just have to laugh at this. 1st is was the smokers, Now it is the heavy people, what will it be next? I am hoping that all the non-smokers that condemmed the smokers are the fatties on this page. How does it feel? It is the government, people need to live with each other and accept in others habits that they may not like. It is call living with freedom and living and accepting others.
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