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Centre Party councillor seeks obesity tax

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 2 Jan 2011, 12:38

Published: 02 Jan 2011 12:38 GMT+01:00

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Centre Party councillor Stefan Hanna has argued in a blog post that those who let their weight spiral place higher demands on public services than those who stay in trim and should thus pay a greater share of the costs.

"If it costs more to live unhealthily the collective society doesn't say NO! The society says do as you want, but if you elect to live unwisely then you have to pay extra so that we can fund any additional costs that you will cost society, if you get older," Hanna wrote on his blog.

He continued to argue that obesity "in combination with an ageing population can't be financed if Swedes in the future want to enjoy the current standard of (public) services."

Story continues below…

Stefan Hanna, whose view on a new obesity tax is reported by local daily Uppsala Nya Tidning to lack support among Centre Party colleagues, does not specify the level of the tax, how it should be levied, nor whether it should be applied progressively.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:16 January 2, 2011 by statC
..."you have to pay extra so that we can fund any additional costs that you will cost society..."

Should having "extra" children not also be considered an additional cost that you will cost society? Why should it matter if the extra weight is strapped to someone's backside or if it's walking along beside them? ....pregnancy care, the birth and any health issues, parental leave, barnbidgrag, dagis, school, school, school, etc. How much does an "extra" child cost? Don't our taxes still pay for that?

Isn't there a required retirement age too? So you are told how long you can work.... What's the average life span? Maybe people who live too long should have to pay more as well since they'll also cause "additional costs".

Etc, etc, etc.
13:33 January 2, 2011 by Swedesmith
Yet another attack by the racist fatophobes on Buddha.
13:50 January 2, 2011 by freepress
So the woman whose cancer was misdiagnosed as "weight gain" would have been lumped on the fat tax roll?

"Övervikt var cancer"


Also, will parents have to pay more for overweight children? At what age will a fat child be deemed mature enough to take over payment for his or her own fat tax? :(
14:01 January 2, 2011 by PonceDeLeon
I would hope Mr. Hanna, obviously a member of MENSA, could employ a more positive approach. Possibly, people who are not overweight could get a tax reduction, 10 or 15%. Based upon his arguement we "Healthy Swedes", are pulling our own weight and will be less of a burden on society. We obviously deserve something for our extra effort. Now get off the couch all you fat asses...
14:19 January 2, 2011 by landofthesheeple
This reminds Me of a song by the pop group The beatles' "Tax Man",

If they do this tax, then in all fairness, there should also be a special tax to immigrants that do not work or learn the language. Also, students from abroad should pay a "Foreign Student Tax" : )

How about taxing families that produce more than 2 kids, albeit this would be an incentive for birth control in Sweden amongst the majority of Social Welfare cases entering Sweden...
15:02 January 2, 2011 by Dalia1


6:45 minutes in.

fictional bitchy wife of congress candidate makes the same suggestion.
15:04 January 2, 2011 by engagebrain
OK, so how would you do this, an annual weigh in run by Skaterverket ?

Why the overweight should be taxed and not the underweight and anorexic, along with those with liver damage and car users or mountain climbers - they all cost the state money.

This is a stupid suggestion but is also an attempt to break down twelfare provisions and to start charging those who actually need assistance.
15:05 January 2, 2011 by refugee
What funny proposal .. prevention is better than cure .. it had better to find the solution for main problems that are related to obesity than focusing on the symptom .. this is ethically unacceptable propsal seems discriminate those people who are over weight ..
15:27 January 2, 2011 by Miss Kitten
I don't think something like this would ever pass, but implementing it could simply be a matter of placing an extra tax on fatty/sugary foods.
15:27 January 2, 2011 by noisyneighbour
Mr Stefan Hanna is so un-sweedish.... what next?
16:02 January 2, 2011 by McChatter
Hej Mr. Hanna, whatever happened to jämställdhet? Why only fat people? There are loads of taxes you could dream up. Why not one for nitwit politicians? If you're worried about an ageing population, just pass a law to kill everybody off when they reach a certain age, say 75. If there's still a finance problem then, just lower the age limit. Personally I would prefer the nitwit politician tax. Mr. Hanna is not the only, so there would be a steady income there.
16:24 January 2, 2011 by star10
The focus should be more on helping the obese people than stereotyping them. They themselves are also victims of their own obesity. That by itself is a heavy punishment. Obesity is not an outcome of shear irresponsibility. It also has to do with a number of other factors such as low education (knowledge about managing once weight) and psychological problems (like depression and stress). The food industry which prays on the less informed and the poor is also another factor. Taxing the obese people simply for their weight would be adding a misery on their already troublesome situation, and probably worsen their obesity by making them poorer and more stressed.
16:30 January 2, 2011 by Beavis
Sweden has far more people who are grossly underweight, its a much bigger problem thats not being tackled.These people cost the tax payer far more problems with their health bills
16:43 January 2, 2011 by samwise
it wouldn't be an issue if it's not a "public health care" system. Everybody pays out of his own pocket, who cares how heavy they are? Should depressed people pay more taxes too? The idea of "public health care" means everybody get equal service regardless his wealth and health condition, correct?

People might already pay more than what we actually get on health care services, who knows how much tax dollars flow into the system.
17:06 January 2, 2011 by Citrixme
hey man give me a break !!!!! assume this will happen ,we should go out in the street calling for a new tax for having extra babies and spreading them around the globe as Swedes terrorist !! is it fair to have 9 kids and then get a tax free salary !! for me I pay more than 40% of my salary taxes and now this smart lady want me to pay for my extra kilos !!! give me a break !! is its the last problem which you are going to solve !!! why u don't this problem then every day in the news you hair about terrorist Swede caught in some where ,why you don't put extra tax in some thing to prevent the transformation of the Swedes nation !!!
17:18 January 2, 2011 by Grahamsmjöl
Surely the overweight are already paying more in tax than thinner people because of the extra food they buy?
17:27 January 2, 2011 by zircon
Tax on size or tax on lbs? Interesting when the first is technical and the other Human flesh. Which again is complete without 'deliberate' incision.
17:42 January 2, 2011 by darky
Let that councilor go back to school so he can be taught that some disorders are genetically inherited. Bulsh'''t
17:50 January 2, 2011 by wxman
@statC is right, let me build upon those comments. It's been proven that those who do not live healthy lifestyles by smoking, drinking or getting obese actually shorten their lives considerably. Therefore, it's obvious that those who live healthy lifestyles prolong their lives by 20+ years, thus costing social services even more than the others. I recommend we tax those who lead healthy lifestyles instead. No, I'm not joking. In the long run, they are far more expensive to the taxpayer.
17:59 January 2, 2011 by Rebel
StatC, children are a cultural and and economic asset -- obesity is not.
18:00 January 2, 2011 by ngecenk
@wxman but one who does not live a healthy lifestyle has a bigger chance to get obese-related desease like heart attack or colesterol disease. it might cost more on short term rather than long term healthy people.

i think this is a good idea so people can consume responsibly, an in long term effect having a healthy people hopefully can extend the average productivity age.
18:24 January 2, 2011 by DamnImmigrant
I like the idea as long as a doctor verifies it is not caused by a medical condition.

Psychiatric help is readily available and cheap so if its cause is psychological, it too can be dealt with.

I see no problem with society saying that being OBESE is NOT acceptable.

Unless of course - THE KANAMITS are coming to "To Serve Man"!!!
19:16 January 2, 2011 by mikewhite
As others have said, there is certainly a case to be made in terms of aircraft baggage weight allowance and passenger weight.
19:20 January 2, 2011 by Soft Boiled
I think once we deal with over weighties... We can deal with people who are the wrong colour.. especially those of a darker skin tone... then lets move on to people who won´t ever reach any academic acclaim... Wait why stop there.. there are those physically handicapped that need a good seeing to... No wait a minute Ive a good idea.. There are those who don´t think or believe like I do... Let us get them on the list.. Yeah sounds good to me ;)
20:04 January 2, 2011 by Larry Thrash
Why doesn't someone in Sweden seek a tax on greedy politicians who want to tax every person living or dead, thought, activity, pocket lint, rocks, trees, grass, one-night-stands, good dreams, birds, rain, weather, walking, sight, etc....
20:32 January 2, 2011 by Frank Lee
Sweden doesn't have an obesity problem. Only America does. Any American who has ever spoken to a European knows this.
23:03 January 2, 2011 by GLO
Sorry, Poeple in both sides of Atlantic are told its not anyones fault, fat gay,terrorist, drunk.... Its Global warming, not enough money for education, lack of tollerance,, I just call it Bull #h#t.
23:33 January 2, 2011 by mojofat
How about taxing all the snus users who are going to have their teeth and gums systematically fall out of their mouths over the next couple decades? One might say being a toothless swede is tax enough, but I say why leave kronors on the table! Get at it tax man! And tax all of these orange swedish girls I see...whatever they're doing to their skin can't be healthy either.
23:40 January 2, 2011 by mkvgtired
@Frank Lee, lol
02:40 January 3, 2011 by skatty
Sooner or later, there will be an introduction of a tax linked to the quantity of excrement, which has been expelled from anus!
03:29 January 3, 2011 by DAVID T
He must have had a bad experience with a fatty
04:02 January 3, 2011 by maxbrando
YES!!!! Tax those really, big fat, juicy boobs. But check for implants 1st.Sould not tax those. And what about guys with overweight penises??
06:34 January 3, 2011 by Dazzler
#27....100% correct!!!
07:34 January 3, 2011 by flintis
Good idea, all these obese people, smokers etc are PROVEN to cost the health system FAR FAR more than people who live healthy lives Why? cos' they are more likely to be ill & need care, like the ones walking round with their oxygen bottles in Karolinska because they smoked 20 a day.

@statC, should tax people with more than 2 children & increase the tax for every further little b'.
08:39 January 3, 2011 by Rebel
One can blame whatever they want on genetic predispositions, yet if one looks at pictures of schoolkids in any western nation from the 1940s or 1950s they will notice very, very few overweight kids and even fewer obese kids. If genetics were the big factor then we should expect to see as many overweight/obese kids in those class photographs as we do today. Since we don't then we have to look to increased food consumption coupled with less activity in our populations.
09:06 January 3, 2011 by Rick Methven

When I was a child in the 40's/50's there was sugar rationing in force until the end of 1953 which made sweets a luxury to be savoured. We had no TV and fewer cars so no couch potatoes so go figure
09:17 January 3, 2011 by Mina08
Just put a higher tax on fast food!
10:09 January 3, 2011 by karex
Genetic predispositions and different eating habit aside, has anyone thought to measure the amount of growth and fattening hormones and other sh** the US meat industry pumps into the animals? Does anyone seriously think they stop working after the cattle is butchered?

Why is it that all my Swedish friends who move to the US for some years and continue the same eating and exercise habits they had back home come back overweight?
10:10 January 3, 2011 by flintis
rick methven:- not just that, most of our mothers cooked food for us, fast food didn't really exist until "Wimpy" we had to make do with healthy food like meat & 3 veg, fish & chips, steak & kidney pie, pigs trotters etc & play outside all day whatever the weather.
10:32 January 3, 2011 by Keith #5083
@Rick Methiven


We also ate more fatty meat, more potatoes and 'stodge foods' with high Carbo content. We had poorer home heating systems and clothes that whilst warm were heavy.

When I started work in 1960 the average male inside leg measurement (for jeans) was 30", today it is something like 35" on a standard pair of jeans. So much for the junk food argument - kids don't grow on poor/bad/unbalanced diets. As for no couch potatoes, yeah - a very romantic revisionist view of history. I can remember plenty of overweight peeps in the 40's and 50's.Women that struggled with one diet after another and uncles whose middles were only missing the beer label on the barrel!

It is not so much the food today - but the quantity!!! Peeps are eating far,far too much in relation to their activity. I do recall, however,a report that a person doing e.g. accountancy work, burned off 3 times the calories of someone digging ditches!!

Taxation has never exactly been a profoundly successful methodology for social change - if it were nobody would drink alcohol, smoke, drive cars,watch tv,etc.etc.
11:22 January 3, 2011 by Don-Griz
Instead of taxing the overweight, how about rewarding those who keep themselves healthy a tax-break? This way, it will be a positive inducement rather than a negative one. And, it would not change or make a difference to those who choose to lead an unhealthy life-style.
11:29 January 3, 2011 by Rick Methven

People do grow on poor high fat/sugar foods, problem is that after using the required nutrition for growth, continuing to eat beyond he amount of calories required to maintain the body, the surplus goes into fat. I grew up in a mining/farming region. Both those who worked on the land and those down the pit ate large amounts of food and Saturday night the miners would sink 10 pints but they where never fat because they worked it off It was an age of predominantly manual work instead of the sedentary lives we live today but still consume the same or more calories
11:46 January 3, 2011 by johnny1939
This interference in our lives must stop. It is getting very silly to use a mild word. This year w/ face recognition anyone with a cellphone will be able to point same at someone else and get their infomation from various social networks etc. What a bone for criminals etc.
11:49 January 3, 2011 by Dr. Dillner
@Don-Griz --

I really like your idea of turning-around the concept and AWARD good diet.
12:40 January 3, 2011 by OnessOfMankind
14:18 January 3, 2011 by Swedesmith
Fat people of the world, unite! Let's march on Stockholm and protest this horrendous miscarriage of justice...as soon as I finish my Happy Meal.
16:38 January 3, 2011 by lacey
I believe in rewarding for good behavior. A tax break for those who meet healthy requirements, as approved by a doctor, is a good idea. What the politician in this article stated doing is a bad idea.
18:01 January 3, 2011 by babychuma
Hey they should tax people who have genetic diseases extra for having children who will possibly cost the state more too, oh and clumsy people too, oh and people who eat too much salt, and athletes, they are more likely to need costly rehab surgeries, and people who drive cars, ride bikes, roller skate.....
19:28 January 3, 2011 by Rebel
flintis, I have a better idea -- place a tax on everyone who reaches 35 without having at least two children. This money will be used to offset the problems associated with not providing society with new workers/taxpayers for the coming generation. Childless-by-choice folk place a huge burden on society and may cripple the pension systems of all the developed nations.
20:31 January 3, 2011 by jook
i am happy that i don't have to live in sweden. sweden lives the lie of equality. in words only.
21:17 January 3, 2011 by NorthDakotaSwede
I think Big Brother is getting too big.
00:54 January 4, 2011 by harrylatour
Har Har Har!! At last,,,as an ex smoker who was taxed out of my 'excess' while being told by fatties ''why don't you give up''? I am happy to tell you Fatso's,,,the tax 'cure' will work!!
10:33 January 4, 2011 by DamnImmigrant
I heard it is hard to get stomach stapling (reduction) surgery here in Sweden.

Just a rumor BUT taxing obesity would necessitate more of these operations if people wanted them.
10:33 January 4, 2011 by jwlundgren
'Collective'??? didn't anyone else catch that? We are Borg. Resistance is futile!

The overweight already pay a high price, yes, in more food, more health problems, sometimes double ticket prices on airlines, shorter life spans, isn't that enough? Burying clothes in Europe is virtually impossible if you are not a size zero and have any sort of curves. Is that what you want? Everyone to be uniform in size. Does make it easy for the manufacturers.

AND, didn't I also read a few months ago that the grossly overweight were having bypass surgery at tax payer expense? You can't have it both ways.
11:02 January 4, 2011 by Rebel
Require all school kids to watch "Supersize Me" as well as require that P.E. grades be based on physical fitness rather than "appreciation of health" or some such criteria.
12:32 January 4, 2011 by farnoxo
If smokers have to effectively subsidse their future poor health through extremeply high cigarette taxes, why should fat people not have to foot an equivalent bill for the costs that their lifestyle choices will impose on the heatlh system in the future.

However, using cigarettes as an example, perhaps it is better to "tax at the source" - i.e. put health taxes on unhealthy s&%t like McDonalds ?
13:53 January 4, 2011 by DamnImmigrant
@skatty - "Sooner or later, there will be an introduction of a tax linked to the quantity of excrement, which has been expelled from anus!"

Already been there for years - called municipal water and SEWER.
19:28 January 5, 2011 by steve_38
Why not tax all food that has addatives in it.

Only fresh food meat, veg, fruit that has nothing in it would be zero tax rated.

All crap food (Biscuits, crisps, chips, soft drink(worst offender)) to be taxed at 50%.

We need to get people to eat proper food not this messed about rubbish full of sugar and salt.

Tax all the packing too at a high rate, too mcuh of it with food.

Rebel those who dont have children subside all the people that do have them so make sure your argument makes any sence please.

Taxing people does change habits fact.
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