No to fat tax plan

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GOVERNMENT proposals to enforce a ‘fat tax’ on food outlets to cut the rising levels of obesity are not welcomed in the Wigan borough.

Health chiefs believe working to help the food traders of the area cook more healthily is a better way of tackling obesity problems than enforcing businesses to pay a new £1,000 levy.

Although one third of deaths in Wigan are caused by cardiovascular disease (CVD), bosses from Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust and Wigan Council say a tax will not discourage businesses from selling fatty foods and customers buying them.

Jane Pilkington, associate director for health improvement for Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust said: “In Wigan, we don’t feel that restricting trade by enforcing a tax would help to tackle CVD in our borough.

“With the current climate, it is not right to start putting a tax on businesses like that and we believe that the work we already do is the right way to combat this problem.

“We have started up the Heart of Wigan Partnership to help raise the profile of CVD and we also work with local businesses to help them cook their food in a healthier way.”

Julie Middlehurst, chief trading standards officer, said: “Our Healthy Business Award scheme already has approaching 200 award winners – restaurants, canteens, sandwich shops and chippies – all of which display an award certificate to show that they are offering healthier choices to customers.”

Howard Gallimore, who owns three food establishments, said: “If people want to eat a burger or some chips then they will do. I don’t think a ‘fat tax’ would help cut the level of obesity. We should focus on educating businesses to serve healthier food.”