Opinion

Thiel: Time to start paying for living an unhealthy lifestyle

The Globe and Mail reported on Oct. 19 that a leading fast food restaurant chain in Canada had grossed $1.46 billion this quarter in revenue.

We’ve all been there, you know which restaurant I am talking about.

That’s a gross annual revenue of $5.8 billion. That’s just one of the fast food chains.

If any of the other six leading fast food chains grossed just half of that amount, that would be a generated revenue of over $22 billion. Although there are many different types of items on their menu, the largest sellers would be considered, by most accounts, to be junk food.

This week, the Ontario College of Physicians released a proposal that junk food, much like tobacco, should be taxed as it contributes to the obesity epidemic we now have in Canada.

I am in agreement with them. Unfortunately, obesity leads to a myriad of diseases—one that is a slippery slope. This tax should not be purely applicable to fast food restaurants and should also include all forms of junk food that have no nutritional value.

Here’s my proposal.  We’ll call it the Ultrasize Tax. As stated, the revenues from the six leading fast food chains would equal in excess of $20 billion. And let’s add another 50 per cent for all other forms of junk food sold annually.

I consider this amounts to be very conservative. If we are to add a 0.5 per cent tax to these ‘foods,’ that would give us a collected revenue of $150 million annually.

The average population of Canada is 33.9 million. That is about $4,400 per Canadian citizen, per year.

An annual gym membership is $540 a year, on average. That still leaves about $4,000 for each citizen to pursue health in ways that are not considered pharmaceutical or critical care.

I’m not suggesting in any way that we take funding away from our medical system as it is necessary. But let’s reallocate some funds to those that are making sure that they are doing well by their own actions and funding.

I think we should recognize that the Swedes are the healthiest population on the planet. It is largely because their government pays for gym memberships, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and subsidizes supplementation. I think this is the model that we should follow.

Our health care system at present is failing as it is not a health care system, rather it is a sick care system, one that takes effect only when you are already ill. There is no discussion, funding or priority given to those who are pursuing their own health and paying for it themselves. It makes no sense to me that flu shots are free when you have to pay for a gym membership, exercise classes or any other form of corrective and preventative care.

Unfortunately, the sick will only get sicker while those who are pursuing health are doing so out of their own pocket.

In Canada, we have the power of choice. That is the beauty of our country. If you choose an unhealthy lifestyle, you should have to pay for it. If you choose a healthy lifestyle, you should be rewarded for it.

I think if we were to implement such a model, we would see a change in our nation with respect to its overall wellness, health and overall well-being.

Let’s fund those living well on purpose.

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