Chocolate should be taxed in a bid to control the obesity epidemic, a medical conference was due to hear today.
Family doctor David Walker believes that chocolate is a “major player” in the problem of the country’s expanding waistline.
Taxing the treat would raise its profile as an unhealthy food which can contribute to weight-related conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and back pain, the Lanarkshire GP was due to tell doctors at a conference in Clydebank.
He said people are often eating more than half a day’s worth of calories when they polish off a bag of chocolates in front of the television.
Dr Walker, based at Airdrie Health Centre, said: “I believe chocolate is a major player in obesity and obesity-related conditions.
“What I’m trying to get across is that chocolate is sneaking under the radar of unhealthy foods. More than one person has said to me, ‘oh, but isn’t chocolate good for you?’ But any benefits are more than outweighed by the detrimental effect of obesity.
“It’s a case of anything in moderation and one or two squares, or perhaps one chocolate biscuit a day, is fine.
“My point is that it is not unusual for a person to eat a 225g bag of something like Minstrels while watching their favourite soap opera, and that’s just short of 1,200 calories — more than half the recommended daily intake for men and women.”
Dr Walker will lead the debate at the BMA’s annual conference of Scottish Local Medical Committees. GPs from across Scotland were attending the seminar at the Beardmore Conference Hotel.
He said the tax move would allow the government to send out the message it was serious about tackling obesity and the extra revenue could fund healthcare and sports facilities.
Dr Walker said: “I would say the government taxing chocolate would not solve the obesity crisis but it might slow the rate of increase of the obesity graph.
“It would be a brave government to do it, but I think it would show a signal of intent that they really are serious about tackling obesity and foods that are potentially damaging to health.
“Chocolate is no longer seen as a special treat, as it was in the past. It is intensely calorific without producing a feeling of satiety.”