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"Fat Tax?"

"Fat Tax?"

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsRadioResearchers in Great Britain are proposing something that people may not like. They say if you charge more for junk food, some people will stop eating it.

Oxford University is known for having some pretty smart researchers. Some of them are proposing a new way to save lives and make a little money for the government. It's called a "fat tax." Basically, it's an extra charge on sugary, salty or fatty foods. I had some tough questions for nutritionists.

"It's been scientifically proven that fast food and junk food tastes better than healthy food. Isn't that true?" I asked.

Total Health and Fitness Director Brian Barney answered, "I don't think it does."

"[It's been] scientifically proven, Brian," I insisted.

"[Then, the] scientists don't know what they're doing," Brian said.

He and I never did agree on that, but he says junk food is the biggest obstacle his clients have to overcome. They even ask him if they can make fast food part of their weight loss plan.

As I headed into McDonald's for my daily Double Quarter Pounder Meal with large fries, extra large chocolate shake, 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, two Big Macs and a Diet Coke, I stopped to ask the customers what they thought about this so-called fat tax.

One customer said,"I think it would be silly."

"I think we pay enough, physically," said another customer.

But they say it wouldn't actually stop them from eating junk food.

Utah State Tax Commission spokesman Charlie Roberts says putting a tax on something to discourage people from buying it is not unheard of. He says it's probably happened here before.

"More than likely the cigarette tax, the beer tax and the other tobacco taxes and liquor taxes would fall under that," he said.

Roberts says he has not seen any studies that show how well these kinds of taxes keep people away from what they're trying to discourage. But he says it would be a very tough sell to get this tax on the books.

"Any increases in taxes, any new taxes are carefully scrutinized by the legislature and by the voters when they go to the voters," he said.

Especially one as high as the Oxford researchers are recommending. They say a 17.5 percent tax increase in unhealthy food would cut demand, and save 3,200 lives every year.

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