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Alabama’s Fat-Tax

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, August 28, 2008 12:29 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Obesity, Heart Disease, Overweight, CDC, Diabetes

Alabama is considering a fat-tax for obese and overweight state workers



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ waist circumference/ author: Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, FDA


If you don’t hit the gym in Alabama, it may cost you.

The State Employees’ Insurance Board plans to impose an extra tax of $25 a month on any employees who has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high glucose or is obese.  

The policy is aimed at cutting the obesity rate in Alabama, which is the second highest in the country, according to the CDC.

37,000 state employees will be affected by the fat-tax. It will be added onto the smokers’ tax of $24 a month which goes up by a dollar next month.   

The state is helping employees to slim down by offering discounts to programs such as Weight Watchers and a YMCA membership.

A fat-tax offers a negative incentive and many health experts say that a positive approach is more effective. The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has published a list employers can use that are more positive, less negative.   

The group points out that employees who are moderately to extremely obese have reduced productivity on the job and increased rate of absenteeism that may be four times greater than employers are estimating. 

Health conditions such as musculoskeletal problems, depression, fatigue and sleeping disorders all drove costs upward.

But there is more to consider than body mass index and obesity. 

Jeffrey Levi with Trust for America’s Health, said that the Alabama requirement could be considered a genetic penalty for people who are predisposed to obesity. He told WebMD that “we need to recognize the complexity of these things,” and that his group wouldn’t support these kind of punitive measures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nationally on just how fat we are becoming.

Just between 2005 to 2007 the obesity rate rose two percent.  

The national average for obesity is 25.6 percent. That means more than one in four Americans is considered not just overweight but obese - the largest number of obese since the survey began 40 years ago.

The fittest people are in Colorado with a 19 percent obesity rate.  The other end of the scale with 32 percent obesity is Mississippi, followed by Alabama and Tennessee.

Obesity is more prevalent in the South at 27%, while the West had the lowest rates of obesity at 23.1 percent.

New York City recently imposed a requirement for restaurants to post the calorie count of foods and California requires manufacturers to remove trans fats from foods all in an effort to reduce obesity rates. # 

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