Controversial plan: Could you incur a fine for being fat?

American researchers have proposed that a “fat fine” could curb obesity rates. However, this controversial idea has been met with

American researchers have proposed that a “fat fine” could curb obesity rates. However, this controversial idea has been met with widespread criticism.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania discovered that people are more likely to exercise if they lose money for being inactive.

Their studies involved 281 people who were asked to take 7,000 steps each day for 26 weeks. Although most of the participants were aware exercise is important, half did no formal exercise in their daily life.

Participants were given $42 each per month, but researchers took away $1.40 for each day the step goal wasn’t achieved. The idea of losing money meant that participants achieved their step goal 45% of the time.

Lead researcher Dr Mitesh Patel explained, “our findings demonstrate that the potential of losing a reward is a more powerful motivator”.

“Our findings reveal how wearable devices and apps can play a role in motivating people to increase physical activity, but what really makes the difference is how you design the incentive strategy”.

Dr Patel’s team have suggested that fines or taxes could be the solution to our obesity epidemic. Researchers also believe that government and workplace programs should penalise people for being inactive.

“(These) programs could result in better outcomes if they designed financial incentives”, Dr Patel said.

This controversial research has been met with public criticism though. One person wrote online, “well then fine thin people too. Being thin does not mean you are healthy on the inside”.

“(If) you fine one group, you have to fine everybody – because very few live a perfect lifestyle. Between alcohol abuse, drug abuse, smoking, not exercising, not eating healthy, there are very few who would not be fined for one of these”.

Do you think a “fat tax” is the right idea? Or are you against fining people based on their lifestyle choices?

  1. I got fat when I gave up smoking. Had to learn that I can only tiny amounts of food to maintain weight. Dare you to fine me!

  2. They had better be very careful with this one, my extra weight is due to a combination of the lack of exercise as I have a disability and Medication which my GP confirmed is responsible. They could end up with a law suit on their hands.

  3. so how would that work? they would fine you yearly depending on your weight? or every time you stepped out of the house the fat Police would be waiting ?

    • Would be the end of Thomas the tank engine. No fat controller. Better break the news to the grandies.

  4. Pamela  

    Offering an incentive, then reducing that incentive when the goals are not reached is a big difference from just charging a fine which would come out of the overall family income.

    In some instances it may mean people who need to make certain changes (i.e. food and/or exercise) would not have the money to do it and thus create a continual negative catch 22 situation.

  5. Life style and changes to life style are to blame, those that choose to be inactive and eat too much need help, those that are totally absorbed in working to pay bills and put food on the table suffer because time is against them with working long hours and commuting. What happened to being able to survive on working 38 hours a week.

  6. Exercise has very little effect on obesity. What expectant mothers eat has a greater effect on whether the child will have dietary and weight problems in later life.

  7. Who pays these stupid researchers? I have put on 13 kgs being on steroids since June. I am sure many others are overweight from medication too. Families on very low income can’t afford meat and vegies , and feed their kids on takeaways because it’s so much cheaper. Sad but true.

    • Take away food is definitely not cheaper than making your own at home. However, you are correct about some medications and people born with slow metabolisms. These researchers are not living in the real world.

    • I could not afford to eat takeaway food! I wonder what you base your figures on. We eat very healthily and relatively cheaply from scratch.

    • I used to have a takeaway where families bought a parcel of chips and had chip sandwiches. You can’t buy meat and vegetables for a family of six for under $7. I think it’s very wrong, but it happens. The only way I can have meat and vege every day is to make a big stir fry with lots of vege and I get about 10 meals out of it for less than $4 a meal. I am not a foodie and so long as I like it can eat it everyday.

    • Rubbish, my mother back in the day had a thousand ways of cooking mince. Only yesterday I made enough curry for three meals for two of us using left over roast and Frozen vegies. Before everybody jumps on my back I used the same principles to feed six of us back in the day. Where there’s a will there’s a way. We wouldn’t be able to afford takeaway every day.

    • Generally, can’t afford takeaway but a couple of visits to Dr.s in town means meat and veggies are light on too. Sausages, rice and noodles becomes a weeks shopping – not good for weight loss

    • Sue O’Keefe I know what you mean. I’ve had a crap year health wise with Breast cancer, inflamed muscles, thyroid etc and if I hadn’t had meals in freezer, it would have been toast for dinner some days. I buy small Italian meatballs or sausages and cook with onions and make a sauce from chicken noodle soup, powdered stock, gravy and curry and mix with boing water and add sauces add chopped fresh vegetables and when cooked thicken with rice. My grandkids love it too. I used to go to club occasionally for a roast, but It’s gone up to $15 for members so is too expensive now.

    • Glenys Bradley : I make casseroles for my 3 x 17 y o grandsons, and it does not cost any more than $5. We always have loads of veg, and meat is an extra flavour. One chicken breast and loads of veg and flavours. Original set up is a bit costly, but the sauces and flavours keep and so do many veg. OH, and loads of rice or pasta fills them up and it is all better than take away.

  8. Crazy. Exercise will make you fitter, but only less food and type of food will help loose weight.

  9. Don’t mention another sort of tax to the Government that’s the only thing they’re good at !!!

  10. Hell no, next thing you know the benefit’s will be based on your weight an then the economy will be f**ked

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