Mayor of 'America's fattest city' proposes 'fastfood' tax

May 10, 2005, as reported by Detroit is proposing a new tax to raise money and reduce the city’s growing waistlines—well, mainly just raise money.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has announced his plan to levy a 2 percent ‘fastfood tax’ on burgers, pizza, hot dogs and other take-out items.

The proceeds generated by the tax will be used to help Detroit close in on its $300m operating deficit. The tax could also have the added health benefit of helping the city slow its collective weight gain—Men’s Health magazine labeled it America's fattest city in 2004—but the mayor’s office is stressing this is not the point.

"We always hope that Detroit citizens will become a little bit healthier in one way or another," said James Canning, a spokesman for Mayor Kilpatrick. "However, the purpose of this is to generate revenue first and foremost."

While lack of revenue is definitely a problem, Detroit's city council has a deficit of more than $300m, it is also facing a potential obesity crisis. Men's Health magazine labeled it America's fattest city in 2004.

The Mayor has not yet defined what constitutes a fastfood restaurant although his spokesman said it was likely to include any outlet where people pay for their food in advance.

However, critics of the tax, including many in the restaurant industry, have dubbed it the ‘fat tax’ and say it unfairly punishes the poor.