The southern Indian state of Kerala has become the first in the country to introduce a “fat tax” on burgers, pizzas, doughnuts and tacos in branded restaurants, reports the BBC on 13 July.

According to a national family health survey, Kerala has the second highest number of people suffering from obesity in India after Punjab.

The 14.5% fat tax has been imposed by the new Communist-led state government, which said it was aimed at making people more conscious about food choices and to curb obesity.

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said the tax was a preventative measure, as the food habits in Kerala were changing, moving away from traditional food.

BBC said global fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s and KFC were relatively new to Kerala; McDonald’s had seven outlets and Burger King had just launched its first outlet in the state.

AFP said most high-fat snacks and other fast-food items in India were still sold by largely unregulated street vendors, rather than branded chains.

The state government said the tax only targeted the “elite section of the society” and should get people thinking about what they ate.

While India had high rates of malnutrition, lifestyle-related health problems including diabetes and obesity were also major issues, particularly in cities, AFP said.