Obesity, which contributes to various health problems including cancer, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure, has become an epidemic, affecting nearly half of the US population. The number of obese people has doubled since 1985, which has led to a 30% increase in health premiums. The overall financial costs of obesity are greater than those of alcoholism or smoking. The annual cost of treating obesity-related health problems is estimated at more than $ 100 billion. Reducing health care costs over time will not happen if obesity is ignored.
Why more taxes?
Two reasons; The first and most obvious is raising some of the money for what is proposed as universal health care, a topic that bears a separate debate. The second reason, and probably the most important, is to raise awareness about what we eat and how it affects our body. The American public is woefully ignorant about nutrition.
What to tax
There have been dozens of tax proposals on “sinful foods,” ranging from a penny per can of soda to 10% on all fast food items. It should probably be more inclusive than that. Packaged foods with a lot of sugar and starch probably contribute as much to the problem as the entire fast food industry. It could well be a sliding scale for all foods except fresh produce based on grams of fat and sugar per 100 grams or per serving.
What is the tax rate?
The Department of Agriculture has suggested that for “sinful food” taxes to change the way people eat, they may need to equal at least 10% to 30% of the cost of food. It is estimated that a 10% federal tax on fattening foods would raise $ 530 billion in 10 years. There should also be a tax subsidy program to incentivize the purchase of healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course, this would reduce gross income somewhat.
Most of us are opposed to more taxes, myself included, but there are other oppositions to such a tax. Here are some of the most common.
- Yo, I’m not fat and I don’t want to pay for someone who is and I like my sodas and Dorritos. You can still eat whatever you want. Paying $ 1.10 for a 99 cent bag of Dorritos may be the cheapest way to pay for this problem. It is inevitable because of the magnitude of this social problem that it will cost you nothing.
- The government must stop trying to legislate our behavior and steal our pockets. Sorry buddy … too late. In such a complex and generally prosperous society, everything we do in some way affects everyone else. “No man is an island.” The only way the government can’t do something is to completely abandon the idea of universal health care. How good is your imagination for that to happen?
- It is a regressive tax that unfairly affects the poor. This seems to be true at first glance. Low-income people eat fast, high-starch foods in an attempt to stretch their money on food. As mentioned above, there should be a tax subsidy for choosing healthy foods. A larger portion of the public health dollar should go to nutrition education and awareness. With the right information and a little help, low-income people can have healthy diets.
One of the failures in the pursuit of a national health problem is the political evasion of personal responsibility and accountability. We have been lulled by dependence on the government, a condition that is difficult to reverse, and the government seems to appreciate its role. Individual responsibility is the ultimate solution; until then everyone pays in one way or another.