Glad to see I’m not the only economist putting out silly stories to suit the silly season. According to Brisbane’s newspaper of record, economist Paul Frijters (ex-ANU, now QUT) has called for a ‘fat tax’.
Queensland University of Technology’s Paul Frijters said introducing a user pays principle was the best way to curb the escalating costs of the obesity epidemic on the health system.
Professor Frijters urged the Federal Government to lift restrictions on health insurance companies to ask questions about a person’s weight and allow them to calculate increased premiums based on body mass index.
“Why should the whole population basically pay for the preventable actions which other people choose?” he said.
About 16Â per cent of Australian men and 17Â per cent of women are considered obese.
Obesity has been linked to a number of life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
“There’s a much heavier use of medicine and there’s much heavier use of hospital care by obese people,” Professor Frijters said. “Obesity is so closely related to lifestyle choices and the costs associated with it are becoming so great that it’s no longer tenable to simply gloss over it.”