We need a heavy tax on chocolate to fight obesity, says doctor

CHOCOLATE should be taxed in the same way as alcohol to tackle the obesity crisis, Scottish doctors will be told next week.

Dr David Walker, a Lanarkshire GP, will warn many people eat their entire daily calorie requirement in chocolate, on top of their normal meals, raising rates of obesity and diabetes.

He said increasing the price of products containing chocolate would help reduce consumption and bring in more money which could be used by the NHS to deal with the health problems caused by obesity.

The British Medical Association's Scottish local medical committee conference in Clydebank will next week hear appeals for politicians to take a chocolate tax seriously if they want to improve the health of the nation.

Dr Walker said the UK faced a "diabetic time bomb". The past 15 years had seen a doubling in cases of type 2 diabetes, which is linked to being overweight, as well as an increase in illnesses linked to obesity, he said.

"One of the major causes of that has got to be chocolate. The quantities of chocolate being consumed now come into the same realm as alcohol, and all that has been said about the damage that is causing."

Dr Walker, who works in Airdrie, said chocolate was seen as a treat in the past. But now, he said, people were addicted to chocolate and eating it daily.

He said that a 1lb box of chocolates contained 2,500 calories – the recommended daily calorie intake for a man – and could easily be eaten by someone sitting watching TV. Large bars of chocolate, containing around 1,250 calories, are being eaten by people after their lunch, the GP added. Another concern is chocolate being given to babies and children, said Dr Walker.

"With the best intentions, parents and grandparents will pop a chocolate button into a baby's mouth in the first two or three months. The baby smiles and everyone is happy.

"But babies and young children are on their way to being addicted to chocolate before they can even walk."

Dr Walker said the government should look at defining products with certain levels of chocolate in them and tax them extra. For example, this could mean increasing the price by between 10 and 20 per cent, or even higher, he said.

However, Julian Hunt, of the Food and Drink Federation, said: "Introducing regressive taxes on the foods that consumers love would result only in lighter wallets, not smaller waists – particularly as we already have to pay VAT on all our chocolate purchases."

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