The Fat Tax

Status: Hoax
image An article in the current issue of Esquire describes the tax-reform campaign of a sixty-six-year-old recluse named Irwin Leba. His idea is to enact a fat tax. The idea is pretty simple. Charge overweight people higher taxes. That way you raise more tax revenue and encourage people to be healthier, at the same time. Here's exactly how it would work:

sometime between January 1 and April 15, every American will have to visit a government-sponsored weigh station and step on a scale. You'll leave with a notarized certificate attesting to your body-mass index (BMI). If that number is 25.5 or higher—24.9 is officially the upper limit of normal—you'll have to pay Uncle Sam a little something extra, corresponding to how overweight you are and scaled to your income.

You can also check out Leba's website,, which operates under the umbrella of an organization calling itself the Institute for a Healthy America. No, none of this is real. It's an early April Fool's day joke. Irwin Leba is none other than Alan Abel, who you can see posing in the thumbnail as Leba. Leba is Abel spelled backwards. The hoax was revealed yesterday in the Washington Post.

April Fools Day Body Manipulation

Posted on Mon Mar 27, 2006


Maegan, while I agree with you (and in fact that's exactly what I said above) you can't get up and move on a plane. In fact, in contexts such as that obesity does cause others discomfort, if not actual harm - and in most instances discomfort and displeasure are all that public smoking cause others (prologued proximity to heavy smoking and asthmatics etc. specifically excluded, please note).

As to the comments about obesity being different from genetic predispositions to disease (such as Rob's remark that the latter is different because 'People who have dodgy genes, there is nothing they can do about it'), while most people probably become gross simply by overeating too much there may also be a number of genetic influences involved (such as defects in the leptin receptor). So discrimination on the basis of weight might by default mean discrimination on the basis of genetics.

And that's not to mention the possible role of Adenovirus-36, which one study has suggested may be implicated in as much as 15% of cases of human obesity!

Finally, to leave you with an image that will no doubt be of comfort on those cold and lonely nights: if all the surplus fat was siphoned - schhhhquiiilch! - off the American population and squolched into one giant blob, you'd have about 1.5 billion gallons of gross, wobbly, jelly-yellow fat... For the swimmers among you, that's nearly enough to fill 3,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools - or, if you'd rather think gastronomically, it's enough to make an inch-thick sausage that could girdle the earth 250 times!


(Data sourced brom Clark and Russell's 'Molecular Biology Made Simple and Fun'; can't be bothered to hunt down the actual study they cite on PubMed, though I could do so if anyone's that interested.)
Posted by outeast  on  Thu Mar 30, 2006  at  01:04 AM
...So the real question would be - how to turn those billions of gallons of fat into fuel for cars!!
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Mar 30, 2006  at  07:09 AM
The "Fat Tax" campaign will continue throughout 2006 with a march on Washington planned for this summer. Anyone interested in participating, please let me know via email, along with photo reseme, take-home pay, blood type and degree of adventure. Alan Abel (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))
Posted by Alan Abel  in  New York City  on  Tue Apr 11, 2006  at  07:06 PM
Taxing fat people is a bad idea. Debating what is considered fat would be a nightmare. More people would walk to the grocery store or to work if they weren't so far away. By changing the zoning laws, more people could walk/bike to the store/work instead of driving. Zoning laws can be changed slowly, starting with allowing grocery stores in suburben nieghborhoods. More taxes, no thanks, changing zoning laws would promote a healthier lifestyle.


Posted by Thomas  in  Marietta, GA  on  Sun Jun 17, 2007  at  10:23 AM
Why don't we just line all fat people against a wall and shoot them?

Dude you are on a slipperly slope. This is the kind of thing they do in China.
Posted by Government Tax Sales  in  Nashville  on  Mon Jan 26, 2009  at  10:52 PM
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