Considering the alarming trends of obesity in the state of Kerala, the CPI(M)-led Left Front government, for the first time, has slapped a heavy ‘fat tax’ of 14.5% on burgers, pizzas, tacos and doughnuts.
This step has been taken to curb the food giants and the growth of unhealthy eating habits which have been overcoming the state. While the key concern may have been to increase tax revenue, the tax was introduced of health reasons as well.
The total percentage of obese people is only as much as 4% of total population in the state, where in America, for comparison, three states have exceeded 35% and 22 states have obesity rates above 30%, according to 2015 data. A country where 194.6 million are undernourished, it creates a sharp contrast with the state of Kerala where people are becoming obese.
Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said, ”This is more of a preventive measure as Kerala's food habits are changing dramatically. People are eating a lot of junk food and rejecting traditional food.”
After Punjab, Kerala seems to be suffering with the most number of people who are overweight according to a national family health survey.
The government has faced a lot of criticism for this step from local cafe owners to food giants like McDonald’s and Burger King but the government isn't unduly worried about the criticism and says it is targeting only the "elite section of the society" with this tax and that its main aim is to improve public health and get people thinking on what they eat.
Meanwhile, the Kerala government has plans to impose the tax on more food items, including refined flour goods and sugary drinks in the near future.