That’s how the owner of one fast food outlet has described the suggestion that obese Barbadians should pay a “fat tax”.
Ralph ‘Bizzy’ Williams, the Barbados franchise holder of Burger King also rubbished claims that such businesses were partly to blame for the high level of obesity among the local population.
On Tuesday night during a Ministry of Health-organized town hall meeting, Director of the Chronic Disease Research Centre at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Dr Alafia Sammuels joined in calls for Government to “tax the fat”, while warning that the current level of obesity, especially among women was out of control and
placed an added strain on the public health care system.
In a brief interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon from the United States, Williams insisted that Burger King was the healthiest fast food businesses on the island.
“We are the healthiest fast food in Barbados, so I don’t know what they are talking about. It’s nonsense,” he said.
“At Burger King we try to keep our menu as healthy as possible. Our menus have a lot of variety and we have wide range of salads, so they surely can’t be speaking about Burger King.”
General Manager of the local franchise operation Ryan Walters also defended Burger King saying the majority of their foods were not deep-fried.
“Over 50 per cent of our food is flame grilled and not deep-fried. All our burgers, which are our main sellers, are flame grilled,” Walters told Barbados TODAY.
“We also offer a wide range of salads and other healthy alternatives when you consider the other fast food restaurants on the island.”
Additionally, Walters said they displayed the nutritional and calorie intake for all meals on their menus to educate customers about their choices.
Efforts to reach Ryan Haloute, the managing director of Chefette Restaurants for a comment today were unsuccessful.
However, Chief Executive Officer of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Gina Pitts told Barbados TODAY she would support the imposition of a tax on fast food outlets. However, she cautioned that while it was easy to target the restaurants, other businesses were also contributing to the island’s “obesity crisis”.
“I agree that those restaurants should be taxed . . . but we need to look at it in a broad sweep and not just target the fast food restaurants. They are an easy target, but we have other elements within our food consumption that should also be looked at,” she said, pointing out that “soda manufacturers should also recognize that they are contributing to our NCD [non communicable disease] crisis [as well as] food manufacturers and meat producers who make the sausages and nuggets and those types of things with high levels of sodium.”
In response to yesterday’s story published by Barbados TODAY, the majority of readers have dismissed the idea out of hand.
However, Pitts said a “fat tax” was not as ridiculous an idea as people may think. In fact, she welcomed the suggestion, even though she acknowledged it might be challenging to implement.
“I think there is a need to do something. Whether it is a viable option based on the numbers that we have one could argue yes, but I think there has to be a realization that perhaps the better option which does seem to have worked in other countries is an incentive based option,” Pitts told Barbados TODAY.
“In other words if the individuals seem to be doing things the right way, such as handling their weight or eating properly, to incentivize that and make it more achievable and affordable for individuals, that may be a better way,” she explained.
Meantime, General Manager of BICO Limited Jo-anne Pooler has defended the ice cream maker, saying the company’s products did not have as much sugar or fat content as other brands.
“It does have in fat, it does have in carbohydrates and it does have in protein. So in terms of a dessert, it is fairly well balanced in its elements versus something which may have a lot of carbohydrates,” said Pooler, while comparing ice cream with apple pie.
“That is not to say that ice cream is good for you and you should be eating 20 litres a day, but in moderation,” she said. Pooler also arguing that even though some food products were high in fat, there were other beneficial elements.