Obese people in Germany face ‘fat tax’

July 23rd, 2010 - 6:36 am ICT by IANS  

Berlin, July 23 (IANS) Overweight people who pursue unhealthy lifestyles should pay higher taxes in order to cover the extra costs they create for Germany’s healthcare system, a conservative lawmaker has said. “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,” said Marco Wanderwitz, the conservative member of parliament from the state of Saxony.

“I think it’s sensible that people who knowingly live unhealthily carry a responsibility for it in a financial respect,” said Wanderwitz, who is also head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats’s group of young parliamentarians.

He was supported by Juergen Wasem, an economist who said foods like chocolate should carry health warnings, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

“As with tobacco, we should tax the purchase of unhealthy consumer goods at a higher rate and pay that tax into the health system,” he said.

Germany’s health system is funded by a series of mandatory health insurance funds, all of which are reporting serious deficits as the system is overused.

Bild, the German newspaper, estimated that treatment for obesity-related illnesses cost Germany some 16 billion pounds a year, the report said.

Recently the German Teachers’ Association recommended weighing children in class each day and reporting the seriously overweight to social services, who would have the power to remove them to clinics.

Although opposition politicians slammed the “fat-tax” proposal, researchers at the Jacobs University in Bremen city claimed its work proved that the majority of the public would back a tax on people whose unhealthy lifestyles landed them in hospital or under other medical care.

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