Fat tax: Does Delhi need to go the Kerala way?

  • Snigdha Ahuja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 13, 2016 08:02 IST
With Kerala levying a tax of 14.5% on junk food, we ask those in the Delhi food biz if such a measure would work in the Capital. (Istock)

Junk food lovers in Kerala might have to spend more to enjoy their favourite burgers and pizzas when eating out. The state has proposed slapping 14.5% ‘fat tax’ on restaurants that sell fast food. While countries such as Denmark imposed a similar tax and failed, France and Hungary also experimented with the idea.

How feasible will be the fat tax for the national capital, where 76% of the population is either overweight or obese? For health experts, the move would make sense. “Desperate times call for desperate measures. With youngsters eating out almost every day, such a step will help them make a wise choice. The tax must be backed by an awareness drive,” says nutritionist Kavita Devgan.

Read: Burn it: Kerala wants 14.5% ‘fat tax’ on junk food

However, those in the food business deem it impractical. For restaurateur Priyank Sukhija, such a tax “infringes on freedom”. “If health is the prime concern, why not make all gyms tax free? Or make the annual Yoga day a monthly affair? There’s so much that could be done to promote health rather than encroaching a person’s freedom of choice. Also, what about junk food sold on the streets?” he asks.

Chefs agree, as they believe Delhiites are smart to choose what they want. “Rather than putting a tab on junk food, let’s take steps that will help counter an unhealthy life,” says chef Nishant Choubey.

Some also believe that the problem lies with the distorted categorisation of ‘junk’. “Why leave out Indian food? Shouldn’t paranthas and butter chicken come under the scanner too?” asks Samira Chopra who heads a fast-food chain in the Capital.

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