Friday, June 15, 2012

Revolutionary idea!  Target fat taxes at  fat people!

Why punish the innocent and the guilty alike?  No system of justice has ever recognized that as just  -- until we come to the Obesity warriors

Susanne Eman, a mother of two from the United Kingdom, weighs 343 kgs and wants to be the world’s fattest person. Her target weight is 730 kgs, and she is well on her way to achieving her goal. Yet there are a number of anti-obesity campaigners who want to tax her fat dream. Taxes are not the answer. The obese should pay for their obesity – but they should pay market rates, not government taxes.

These campaigners also want to impose a ‘fat tax’ on meals such as Burger King’s 510 calorie bacon sundae and KFC’s 540 calorie Double Down. Last year, Denmark introduced a tax on butter, milk, pizza, oil and other foods containing more than 2.3% saturated fat. Hungary has also implemented a fat tax on foods with a high fat, salt or sugar content.

Fat tax zealots also want soft drinks to be taxed more and have convinced New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of sugary drinks more than 470 ml. And in Australia, the Obesity Policy Coalition claims that more than 70% of Australians want fatty foods to cost more and healthy foods to cost less.

Fat taxes increase costs for everyone, irrespective of an individual’s girth, and importantly, do not take into account factors such as the lack of physical activity that contribute to obesity. Additional taxes imposed by the government on what we choose to eat and drink are clearly not the answer.

Rather, the additional costs of obesity should be borne directly by the obese and not by other taxpayers or businesses. This guarantees that people who are responsible and disciplined in managing their weight are not subject to a ‘fat tax,’ while ensuring the market charges the obese for the additional costs they impose on society. Some private sector businesses have started responding to the additional costs that obesity entails: several airlines require obese passengers to purchase a second seat, and insurance companies are factoring obesity into premium costs.

Susanne Eman should be free to be fat. She should pay for it too, but not through another new tax that will punish the healthy when they want to try a bacon sundae.


Pesky!  Drinking, smoking or being overweight 'does not harm men's fertility'

It's the advice every man trying to become a father wants to hear – have a drink and relax.  Researchers said yesterday that they have evidence that it probably won't harm their chances of starting a family. Nor will smoking, taking drugs or being overweight.  They found men with unhealthy lifestyles were likely to be just as fertile as those living more sensibly.

Under NHS guidelines issued in 2004, GPs are supposed to warn men diagnosed with infertility of the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs.

To try to improve sperm quality, infertile men are also urged to avoid being overweight and not to wear tight underwear.

The quantity of 'swimming sperm' available is regarded as critical to attempts to conceive, and infertile men are advised to cut out unhealthy habits to improve it. This leads to extra strain for many childless couples at an already stressful time. But a British study suggests many factors that were thought to contribute to sperm problems have little impact.

Estimates suggest around 30 per cent of men in couples seeking IVF treatment are subfertile, and 2 per cent are 'totally' infertile, while some studies show dramatic falls in average sperm counts. In some cases, fertility treatment is delayed or withheld on the NHS until couples improve their lifestyles.

However, the number of swimming sperm a man produces appears virtually unaffected by lifestyle choices, claim a team of scientists from Manchester and Sheffield universities.

They recruited 2,249 men from 14 fertility clinics around the UK and asked them to fill out detailed lifestyle questionnaires. Information from 939 of the men who produced low numbers of swimming sperm was then compared with information from 1,310 who produced higher numbers.

The results, reported in the journal Human Reproduction, showed that men with poor quality sperm were 2.5 times more likely to have had testicular surgery, and twice as likely to be of black ethnicity.

They were also 1.3 times more likely to do manual work, not wear loose boxer shorts, or not to have had a child before. But men's use of tobacco, alcohol and recreational drugs made little difference.

Even being overweight, as measured by body mass index, did not affect sperm quality. The number of swimming sperm broadly correlates with how fertile a man is likely to be. It also often determines the type of fertility treatment that is offered. Study leader Dr Andrew Povey, of Manchester University, said: 'Our results suggest that many lifestyle choices probably have little influence on how many swimming sperm they have.

'For example, whether the man was a current smoker or not was of little importance. Similarly, there was little evidence of any risk associated with alcohol consumption.  'This potentially overturns much of the current advice given to men about how they might improve their fertility.'

Co-author Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at Sheffield University, said men should still take care of themselves, without feeling the need to 'become monks'.

But he added: 'Although we failed to find any association between common lifestyle factors and the number of swimming sperm, it remains possible that they could correlate with other aspects of sperm that we have not measured.  These include the size and shape of sperm or the quality of the DNA.'


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