JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Let's slim down our tax burden

Date
Eat healthier, pay less tax. Easy.

Eat healthier, pay less tax. Easy.

Imagine a knock on a Canberra door, and this being said: “Mr Prime Minister, there's no need to worry about the Budget and the deficit. Australians have decided to get fit and healthy, and the annual cost of obesity will go from $120 billion per year to zero.”

That would amount to $1.2 trillion saved (ignoring increases) over the next 10 years. Possible? Call me an optimist, because I fantasise about Australia being a cool, sunny, friendly, and healthy country. Three out of four ain't bad, but it ain't that good, either.

This winter there's a fork in the road, and we need to decide if we're going to be FIT or FAT. What's it going to be?

FIT because you exercise. Yes, your diet is important, but people who exercise are healthier in mind and body. Run, swim, or play sports. Perform push ups, squats, or head to Zumba. Your body was meant to be strong and to move with speed – so do it.

OR:

FAT because you don't eat fruit and vegetables. Last week, the Heart Foundation reported that “intake is dismal, with only 1 in 14 people (7 per cent) eating enough. One in four adults reported eating no vegetables, and more than 40 per cent had no fruit.” The report also states more Australians eat cake and biscuits on a daily basis than eat fruit. Shocking. And embarrassing.

FIT because you drink water. The earth and our bodies are made up of around 70 per cent water. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. A healthy body needs, wants, and begs for water … not 15 beers per day, energy drinks, or diet fizzy drinks.

OR:

FAT when you don't take responsibility. Obesity Australia released a superb yet staggering report in March on obesity with many alarming statistics, and its call to action was to follow the US approach by categorising obesity as a disease. Not sure I'm on board with that train of thought. Take responsibility for your body and health and this debate never even needs to take place.

FIT because you don't care what the temperature is this winter. Check out last winter's temperatures in places such as Chicago and Toronto, and understand that Australia does not get cold. Waking early, moving your body, and a morning workout (outdoors or indoors) will change your daily energy and life.

OR:

FAT because you lack patience. DVD, movies, information, and porn is at our fingertips. We want something? We get it NOW. Losing weight isn't like that. You must physically and mentally invest in the right lifestyle, then be patient. It takes months, maybe even a year – patience breeds healthiness.

FIT because sex is bloody fun. Too fat for some lovin'? No energy? Get fit for sex because sex is healthy, free, and it feels good – need I say more?

OR:

FAT when you don't plan a healthy week. Is winter Sunday time for curry delivery and eight episodes of HBO's latest and greatest? Sunday is a planning and shopping day. Planning healthy snacks, recipes, and clothes folded and ready for workouts takes a couple of hours and can change your whole week.

FIT because you sacrifice. Sometimes the couch beats a run, pizza beats chicken on quinoa, and a six-pack beats everything else. But you sacrifice and choose health because a healthy life is the most important thing you have going on.

OR:

FAT because of your snacks. What is the caloric and dollar cost of snacking at the convenience store? Huge. Snacks are fruit, carrot sticks, and green smoothies; not convenience store donuts, hot dogs, and chocolate milk.

The government's job is to keep Australia financially healthy. Our job is the same, with our bodies. Imagine the Australian economy if we had $120 billion to spend this year, and every year beyond?

When there's a fork in the road, sometimes putting down the fork is the only answer.

We can change the country's finances around - one workout and one salmon-and-veggies meal at a time.

You can email me here or follow me on Twitter here.

38 comments

  • mmm home delivered curry and eight episodes of GoT on a cold rainy sunday ....

    Commenter
    Doc
    Date and time
    May 14, 2014, 8:13AM
    • Fat chance of this happening.

      Commenter
      John
      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 8:42AM
      • Interesting.

        I agree with your health examples - and most of us could do far better focusing on doing the 'fit' things and less of the 'fat' things. However, I'm not sure about drawing the analogy to the budget - fairly insensitive today, when many are in shock due to the effect on them.

        How about including 'fat because you keep going despite ongoing injuries, trying to do the 'heavy lifting' when you need more support and a lighter program' 'fat because you are working too long / struggling to make ends met and not getting enough rest / sleep'? These are also relevant analogies to bring into the equation (how many people do you hear of thinking that, with limited exercise they can immediately start a long run, and suffer the consequences. What about if they were FORCED to?) These are also recipes for unhealthy people, an unhealthy economy and an unhealthy society.

        Commenter
        Helen K
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        May 14, 2014, 9:20AM
        • Well MJ you could knock me down with a feather. Soon I'll be lighter than one too. Not because I'm patient, or enjoy regular sex, or avoid 'pop', or cooked homemade curry last sunday whilst missing some kind of cable link to the Westeros, and it's not because I sacrifice - we're getting good at that here (part of the longterm austerity plan) - nor because I don't eat candy. The masters of the gene pool just made me the way I am. A bit this way and that. But I do get sick. Chronic afflictions weigh me down. I'm sick of the simplistic dribble of self-interest. The sort that labels fat people as a cause of economic drain. The same sort that seeks gain from a senseless, heartless and future-draining budget aimed to divide and keep down. So fat people are your collective whipping boys now? Not good enough to beat them into your mindset in your gym, now you want to shame the fatties of the nation into accepting that it is they who have put us in this made-up mire of debt. By the way did you give good-ole Joe a call about his cigar habit?

          Commenter
          Michael
          Location
          hungry street
          Date and time
          May 14, 2014, 9:25AM
          • + 1!

            Commenter
            treefrog
            Date and time
            May 14, 2014, 10:44AM
          • Hmm...I do all those things, including the healthy eating and six days a week exercise, love winter...but since I had cancer I'm still obese. How does that fit into your scheme? Or all the people who gained weight from medications (especially anti-depressants): should they have just killed themselves to save you $ and having to look at (shock horror) a living, but medicated and fat person?

            Commenter
            LS
            Date and time
            May 14, 2014, 1:44PM
        • Michael, sometimes I like what you have to say about health and fitness but a piece like this is nothing more than fat stigmatisation wrapped up in stereotypes about fat people with a side of ignoring the fact that slim and healthy are in fact NOT interchangeable.

          You can be fat and fit, just as you can be skinny and horribly unhealthy. You infer that fat people have no self control, patience, are lazy, lack persistence and responsibility. This is categorical crap and all it does is reinforce harmful tropes about people who do not fit into your idea of what health and fitness looks like.

          This is also particularly relevant after last night's budget because whether you like it or not, the luxury of being able to pursue a lifestyle of daily exercise, fresh fruit and veges and homemade meals is largely one only available to the middle class, and the assumptions that everyone has the time and/or money is classism and ableism, no matter which way you slice it.

          It would be great if we could acknowledge that we need to create a dialogue around health in this country that focuses on nutrition and active lifestyles without creating more stigma around fatness, and an emphasis on people's bodies and what they look like.

          It's not hard - do better, Michael - your prejudice is showing.

          Commenter
          Ruth
          Location
          Brisbane
          Date and time
          May 14, 2014, 9:40AM
          • No, I have to defend Michael's article. I agree that not all fat people lack self control, patience, are lazy, lack persistence and responsibility, but I've got a fair idea that the majority do. Your comment sums up wonderfully some of these points- being overweight is somebody elses fault- government, budget, social. It costs nothing to throw the TV out the back door, to stop complaining about how hard life is and go for a bloody walk in the crisp, fresh air for an hour everyday. There are 24h in the day, I assume you shouldn't be working more then 10 and if you are so busy you're putting in 10+ hours, then you shouldn't have time to slip down the shop for a pie and donut. Stop being lazy, stop waiting for someone else to do something about it and take responsibility for your own health- a healthy budget depends on it.
            Personally, a fat tax used to subsidised fresh fruit and vege would be world class.

            Commenter
            MM
            Location
            FNQ
            Date and time
            May 14, 2014, 10:35AM
          • "The majority do". Do not tar thousands of people with a brush based on nothing more than your own prejudices and anecdotal evidence. You do not know people's stories, and are in no positions to make judgement calls about their patience, health, priorities etc.

            Sure there's 24 hours in a day, but what about people who have families to support? On a minimum wage? Who work TWO jobs to support themselves/a partner/children? After 10 hours work a day, the last thing I feel like doing is spending time making a meal from scratch/going for a walk/run/the gym. And sure, you may be able to do that. But not everyone can. Nor can everyone afford it.

            Demanding people take responsibility for their own health ignores the fact that they are living in a society that is doing its darndest to ensure that the worst foods are the cheapest/readily available (I suggest looking up 'food deserts'), public transport is obscenely expensive, and infrastructure means that exercise is not always free/safe.

            I can't argue with the logic supporting a subsidy on fresh fruit and veges; I do object to it being called a 'fat tax' - can you not with the gross generalisations for one second?

            Commenter
            Ruth
            Location
            Brisbane
            Date and time
            May 14, 2014, 10:55AM
          • MM,
            I am required to take medication for a chronic illness that makes it very difficult to maintain weight. I eat well, I train every day, walking, cycling, martial arts, swimming amongst other things, and I maintain an exceptionally high level of fitness for my age (a recent cardiac stress test confirmed that I am not remotely unfit). I am neither lazy nor unhealthy and yet I struggle to maintain what is considered to be a healthy weight. Where does this fit into your statements of the gist of this article?

            I have family and friends who have poor diet, don't exercise and don't look after themselves and that don't seem to put on weight. The relationship is not as simple as you or the author of this article makes it out to be.

            Commenter
            SKay
            Date and time
            May 14, 2014, 11:02AM

        More comments

        Comments are now closed
        Featured advertisers
        Executive Style newsletter signup

        Executive Style newsletter signup The latest news delivered to your inbox twice-weekly.

        Sign up now