Takeaways facing 'fat tax' in obesity battle

Caroline Cassidy

Takeaway restaurants in the UK could be forced to pay a £1,000 "fat tax" in a new scheme designed to help curb Britain's rising obesity rates.

The idea is set to be trialled in Oldham, where the number of obese children (one in four) was recently found to be higher than the national average.

Takeaways facing 'fat tax'
Takeaways facing 'fat tax'

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A council source told the Daily Mail: "Oldham has reached saturation point with fast food outlets. It is not healthy for our residents and it is not healthy economically."

The "fat tax" would apply to any new business seeking a licence for takeaway food and, along with local kebab shops and chippies, fast food giants such as McDonald's and KFC would also be forced to pay the levy.

However, those branches that with a greater number of seats for "eating in" would avoid paying the fee and those outlets that could prove they were serving healthy food would also be exempt.

Cash raised from the tax would, say council sources, be spent on programmes aimed at encouraging children to eat healthily.

Should Oldham's trial scheme prove a success, other councils may follow suit and draw up their own plans to tackle the problem.

The move has been welcomed by obesity experts.

Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum said: "As the Government is doing very little so it may be down to local authorities to take action and we would welcome a 'fat tax' on fast food joints - if they are going to cause the problem then they should certainly contribute to the solution."

Business leaders, however, are not so keen. While big names like Burger King and Domino's could easily stump up the £1,000, small businesses forced to pay the tax may struggle.

A Federation of Small Businesses spokesman said: "This sort of local levy is regrettable when it is paying for items that the local authority should be paying for anyway.

"We believe that when this sort of money is charged it should be channelled back into economic development."

Should takeaways be forced to pay a 'fat tax'? Let us know what you think below...