Obesity
A tax on fats or sugars is a punitive punishment for people who like junk foodReuters

Food's variety makes life worth living. Healthy food, junk food, snacks, meals, sweet, savoury, salty, whatever. I'm never happier than when my gob's full.

A lot of the food I like, and so a lot of the food that I consume, is bad for me from a doctor's perspective. But I don't care, because it makes me happy, if not healthy.

When the day comes to roast my cadaver down the local crematorium, I hope the place ends up smelling like a Greggs bakery.

I know the risks of eating lots of fat and sugar and doing little exercise. But, on balance, my life is better because I eat fried chicken and watch the television more often than I chomp on raw carrot sticks and leg it around a park.

So it is with horror that I read, through the narrow slits in the almost-touching flab between my eyebrows and cheeks, that yet another group of doctors are pushing for a tax on unhealthy foods like sugar to punish those of us who eat them.

What price the freedom to eat a cheesecake? Is this the ideal? Using the state's cumbersome but mighty arm to beat us into making particular government-approved lifestyle choices?

If we care about personal freedoms then what we want is an educated public that makes its own choices, rather than being coerced one way or the other.

Public health should be about giving people the facts and information they need to support those choices, starting from an early age in school.

The government should regulate food production so it is prepared in a safe environment and consumers don't find odds and sods in their tin of beans.

Regulators should also keep a tight grip on marketers' propaganda so that advertisers can't hammer us with false information or target children. They must force firms to label food clearly with its contents so we are under no illusions or misunderstandings about what is contained in it.

These are reasonable curtailments on the food industry, but to tax fatty or sugary products is a gratuitous financial punishment on consumers for exercising their right to eat what they want. And it disproportionately affects those on lower incomes.

Not only that, but it ignores that I can buy all of the ingredients separately and bake myself an enormous cake at home. What is the government going to do? Spot checks on homes to see what we're making in our own kitchens? Make us declare we cooked some roast potatoes in beef dripping last Sunday so we can retrospectively be taxed for it?

Some people whinge about the costs of obesity and unhealthy lifestyles to the NHS. But so what? The NHS should be there to underpin our freedoms. It is a health service we all work hard to pay for through taxation.

It is free at the point of delivery. It means those who are on low incomes can eat unhealthily without worrying about having to foot the bill if there are any problems.

Otherwise the personal freedoms to eat what we want and get as fat as we like, should we so choose, become the preserve of the wealthy who can afford life-lengthening healthcare.

That counts for other things too, like sports injuries. Perhaps we should all stop playing football because of the costs to the NHS from broken limbs and pulled muscles?

We're not stupid. We have the information we need. We know where we can get hold of the facts if we want them. Nobody chowing down on a pack of Starburst thinks they're eating a bowl of fruit.

If people want to live healthier lifestyles there are plenty of support groups who can help them to do that. Only a snob thinks people are too thick to understand what it takes to live healthily. And only a nannying state puts punitive taxes on lifestyles it doesn't agree with.

You like eating apples and doing yoga? Fine. Just leave me and my cheese board alone.