Fat Food Tax to Pay For Health Care? A Modest Proposal – Pros and Cons

Fat Food Tax to Pay For Health Care? A Modest Proposal – Pros and Cons


Obesity, which contributes to various health problems such as cancer, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure, has become an epidemic and affects nearly half of the American population. The number of obese people has doubled since 1985, leading 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. Lowering health costs over time will not occur if obesity is ignored.

Why more taxes?

Two reasons; First and most obvious is to raise some of the money for what is proposed as universal health care, an issue that involves separate debate. The second reason, and probably the most important, is to raise awareness about what we are eating and how it affects our bodies. The American public is woefully ignorant about nutrition.

What to tax

There have been dozens of “sin food” tax proposals, from one penny per can of soda to 10% on all fast food items. You probably need to be more inclusive than that. Foods packed 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 on all foods except fresh products 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 equalize at least 10% to 30% of the cost of food. It is estimated that a 10% federal fattening food tax would raise $ 530 billion over 10 years. There should also be a tax subsidy program to encourage the purchase of healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course, this would reduce gross income a bit.

Opposition response

Most of us oppose more taxes, including myself, but there are other oppositions to such a tax. Here are some of the most common.

  • I’m not fat and I don’t want to pay for someone who is and I like my soft drinks and Dorritos. You can still eat whatever you want. Paying $ 1.10 for a 99 cent bag of Dorritos can be the cheapest way to pay for this problem. It is inevitable due to the magnitude of this social problem that it will not cost you in any way.
  • The government must stop trying to legislate our behavior and collect our pockets. Sorry friend … too late. In such a complex and generally prosperous society, everything we do somehow affects everyone else. “No man is an island.” The only way for the government not to do something is to completely abandon the idea of ​​universal health care. How good is your imagination to make that happen?
  • It is a regressive tax that unfairly affects the poor. This seems to be true at first glance. Low-income people eat high starch and fast foods in an attempt to stretch their food dollar. As mentioned above, there should be a tax subsidy to choose healthy foods. More than 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 flaws in finding a national health care problem is the political avoidance of liability and personal responsibility. We have been lulled to depend 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 one way or another.




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