Time to subsidise exercise

Last updated 05:00 08/06/2014

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I believe most people are aware that obesity is fast becoming a major problem.

We're following the US down the road of high-calorie food, made worse by a sedentary lifestyle.

It has become normal for many people to take their car everywhere, even for short trips, to sit in a chair all day at work, then drive home and sit in front of the TV.

Often those same people will go to a fast food restaurant regularly, drink fizzy drinks every day, and still wonder why the pounds are piling on.

Or why later in life they're facing heart disease and diabetes.

At some point they realise that they're overweight, and at that point try to do something to reverse it.

The problem is that losing weight is much harder than gaining it

We need to make sure people don't become overweight, and especially obese, because it's much harder to reverse it.

A lot of effort has been put into promoting exercise and healthy food, and while it has made a difference, the general level of obesity is still increasing.

But what can we do? If it was up to me, I'd close all of the fat food joints, but I realise that won't happen, no matter how much of a scourge they've become on society.

So, for starters, make sure that people who commute to work on foot or on a bike are well rewarded. There needs to be an incentive for more people to do that.

Employer or Government-subsidised gym memberships would be another way to encourage people to exercise more.

Secondly, let's make sure that healthy foods and drinks cost less than their unhealthy counterparts. There are several ways to do that, probably the best one is to eliminate taxes from fruits and vegetables. Another way would be to add a tax to sugary fizzy drinks, and certain foods.

The problem with that idea is that it would be hard to define the foods and the drinks. Manufacturers would redesign their contents, not to be healthier, but to avoid the tax.

We could tax the major fast food places, but that would only create a boom in smaller fast-food outlets.

Stress and insomnia are another two major contributing factors to obesity, so reducing those would make a major difference. The good news here is that exercise reduces stress, and allows you to sleep better.

The sooner you start and make it a habit, the better you will feel. Once you've made exercise a habit, you'll start to slowly eat better as well.

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