As part of an effort to fight obesity, Darebin Council in northern Melbourne, Australia, is considering a “fat tax” which would impose whopping rate increases on fast food giants like McDonald’s and KFC.

Obesity is a significant problem in Australia, with six in 10 adults and one in four children considered overweight. This new tax would penalize fast food restaurants with rate increases up to a staggering 400 percent.

According to the council, extra money generated from the tax would be spent on health promotion programs to battle obesity as well as related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

Darebin councilor Gaetano Greco said the tax is meant to promote good health and reduce the number of fast food joints. “Councils have the responsibility of looking after the health and well-being of their community,” he said. “Here we are, looking at an extra tool that council can use to limit or control the spread of fast-food chain outlets.”

Not surprisingly, fast food companies aren’t thrilled with the idea. A KFC spokesman said consumers should be able to choose what they eat for themselves. “For our part, we believe in informed choice and provide our customers with detailed nutritional information so they can make sensible dietary decisions for themselves and their families,” he said.

A McDonald’s spokesperson said the fat tax would have a pronounced effect on all fast food restaurants in the area, many of which — including the golden arches — are owned and operated by local people.

[news.com.au]