Health trougher wants to save fat bastards by taxing us all

Robyn Toomath is a health trougher and a socialist. She hasn’t yet met a tax that she doesn’t like.

She appeared on Sunday last night re-iterating what she has written on her blog.

If you stop and ask people on the street, nine out of ten (including the overweight ones) will say that you get fat from over-eating and its no-one’s fault but your own. This is not just due to imperfect understanding of geno-environmental interactions, but because the notions of autonomy and self-control are deeply held (1). So when nihilistic biologists such as myself suggest there is no such thing as free will, it’s not just the libertarians but liberal intellectuals who are offended.

I need to remind myself of this tension between free will and socially determined arguments when I feel frustrated at the persistent framing of obesity as an issue of personal responsibility. But no matter how appealing the idea that we can change our body size if we choose to, the reality is that we can’t. At least, not most of us, and not permanently. Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor (and obesity expert), said in a recent speech that over his life time he has lost about 100kg in weight, and put about 95kg back on (2). If motivation and education were the keys to staying slim Sir Peter should be as thin as a rake (he’s not).

It’s all very well maintaining a fantasy if it makes us feel better but the personal responsibility myth causes great harm.

Actually it is the belief that the state can cure-all that causes the most harm. There is only one person responsible for someone being a fat bastard…themselves.

The most obvious harm is the stigmatisation and shame experienced by an overweight person. The impact of this can be quantified by looking at wages earned by fat and slim people, corrected for other factors. In a study of 25,800 people in the US, a woman weighing 30kg above ideal weight earned on average 9% less, equivalent to 3 years of work experience or a year and a half of education compared to a normal weight woman. The penalty for severely obese men was a 20% lower salary (3). Prejudice develops at a very young age and psychologist Andy Hill has documented marked aversion to obesity by children as young as nine and this appears to be getting worse with time despite increasing numbers of fat children (4). In the absence of effective treatments for obesity in children (despite Minister of Health Coleman’s assertions to the contrary), I share Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills’ view that identifying obesity in the B4 school check will likely do more harm than good (5).

That is, a targeted individual-level approach to tackling obesity, which requires identifying overweight and obese people to start with, can perhaps do more harm (stigmatisation) than good.

If Fat bastards don’t want to be stigmatised then the solution is literally in their own hands…put down the fork and spoon and stop stuffing your gaping maw with food.

Her belief that the collective should solve the problems of the individual is a wonky as it is dangerous. She wants to identify overweight and obese people? It’s not fricking hard love…they are the ones waddling through the supermarket wearing a tent, literally a housing and feeding solution for a small African sub-saharan village.

Sally is enraged at Toomath’s suggestions:

Last night on the Sunday programme, Dr Robyn Toomath was promoting a sugar tax and said we must forget about personal responsibility and move to collective responsibility.

Now I have been thinking about her use of the word collective responsibility. According to her the rather overweight woman I see in the supermarket bypassing the veg display and instead loading her trolley with soft drinks, cakes and chocolate it is all big food and drink producers fault. We already pay for her health problems but Dr Toomath wants all of us contribute more to this person because this fat woman has taken no personal responsibility for own health problem. Dr Toomath even advocates that she doesn’t tell people to lose weight because it damages their self-esteem. See this article…

Now, about this collective responsibility that socialist and Marxist are big on. Notice how often academics are one of these. Once upon a time they took some personal responsibility to study hard, to go to university, and get qualified. Dr Toomath didn’t get where she was without taking personal responsibility. Now she can spout on about the collective from her pulpit on high.

We all know the problem with collective responsibility is everyone is dragged down to the lowest common denominator. So Dr Toomath wants to drag us down to the fat woman in the supermarket who hasn’t got the will power to bypass the soft drink shelves.

I maybe not a highly educated doctor but I sure am happier in my personal responsibility world than sitting in the gutter with the lowest common denominator.

KatB adds:

After watching that TV series a few years ago on the Chawner family in England, it became apparent to me that nobody can change somebody else’s relationship with food or help them lose weight. This obese family had every bit of help one would need to lose weight. They had the gyms and the trainers and the dietitians and doctors all at their disposal. They were sent to health farms etc, but hardly any weight was lost and no real change to their relationship with food. I realised then the change had to come from the person themselves and they had to be really ready to change their life for good for it to work and THEY themselves had to put the hard work in. No home delivered food, no personal trainer on call and no sugar tax is going to help anybody if they aren’t prepared to change themselves.

And Sally adds the final twist that shows how wonky Toomath is in her thinking:

If we become part of the ‘collective’ we should be entitled to walk up to the fat woman in the supermarket and call her fat and tell her to stop buying junk food. We don’t want to waste the ‘collective’s money’ on her health problems and she needs to do her share.

Indeed we should, fat shaming I think is  a valid tactic…after all it worked on smokers. First they had to go to a designated smoking area in the office, then outside, then down the road…pariahs, stigmatised by people like Robyn Toomath. The thing about smoking is it was rancid and affected us all. Rancid fat people can be fixed with a shower and some deodorant. But let’s carry this collective thing further, perhaps restaurants and cafes could have a no Fat Bastards sign out front with a set of scales activated doors.

It is bizarre that academics think nothing of taxing everyone to maybe, possibly save two of three Fat Bastards from themselves. Why should the guy with the body like a half-sucked throatie have to pay taxes to save a Fatty Boomsticks down the road?

If we must have a tax then apply it to the Fat Bastard and call it the Fat Bastard Tax (FBT)…if someone wants to be fat then they get to pay for it and their health issues themselves.

We don’t need “public health experts” like Robyn Toomath wanting to tax everyone.


– Public Health Expert, Whaleoil

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.