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Airline Fat Tax: Could This Promote Eating Disorders?

By HERWriter
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could airline fat tax end up promoting eating disorders? Davoust Laurent/PhotoSpin

For years, airlines have made headlines for their policies regarding obese and overweight passengers. Besides potentially having to buy a second seat, larger passengers could now be taxed for their weight.

Dr. Bharat P. Bhatta, associate professor of economics at Sogn og Fjordane University College, Norway suggested airlines charge a tax based on weight, referred to unofficially as a “fat tax.” The proposal’s aim is to help airlines reduce fuel costs, according to various sources like The Telegraph and CNN.

There are three proposed tax methods: total weight, base fare +/- extra, and high/average/low, according to CNN.

In the first method, the total weight of the passenger and the luggage is calculated, and a certain amount is charged per kilo.

In the second method, passengers are charged a base fare, and anyone overweight or underweight is charged extra or given a discount per kilo compared to the base.

The third method has a base fare and a planned discount or surcharge is given (not per kilo) based on passenger weight.

If one of these methods is approved by airlines, you might be required to arrive even earlier to “weigh in.”

Some are also concerned about what a “fat tax” could mean for the mental health and body image of passengers.

Lynn Grefe, the president and CEO of National Eating Disorders Association, said in a press release that an airline tax could increase stigma against overweight and obese people.

“This is a misguided policy suggestion that attempts to account for fuel cost, but completely fails to account for the human cost of stigmatizing people with larger bodies,” Grefe said.

She added that these methods could trigger eating disorders, and is concerned that discounts would potentially encourage people already struggling with anorexia, while healthy people who also happen to be larger would be taxed unfairly.

“Body shaming and weight discrimination are already too common and, sadly, not being addressed in a society obsessed with body image,” Grefe said.

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EmpowHER Guest

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April 11, 2013 - 7:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

Personally as someone with an eating disorder I think that this can cause increase in symptoms for someone with an eating disorder already or might even create more stigma in with EDS. honestly it is very hard lose weight..

April 9, 2013 - 4:48pm
EmpowHER Guest

As a body builder I guess I have to pay more. The good news I don't have to fly. The airlines keep giving me reasons not to fly. This would be the last reason they would give. I guess they could afford to lose many of their passengers.


April 2, 2013 - 6:17pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.