Alabama to place 'fat tax' on obese state employees

August 27, 2008
by Shari Roan
Los Angeles Times

Alabama state officials say they will offer programs, such as Weight Watchers and YMCA discounts, to help the employees get in shape and avoid the penalty. But health experts aren't so sure a punitive approach is the best way to lower healthcare costs. The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has published a list of tactics employers can use to help fight obesity. The list is made up entirely of positive incentives; nothing suggesting fines or penalties. Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health and a health policy expert at George Washington University, told WebMD that the Alabama requirements could be interpreted as a genetic penalty for those who are predisposed to weight or cholesterol problems. "We need to recognize the complexity of these things," he says.

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