Fat Tax: Putting a dent in consumers wallets for the better

img002by Alyssa Rimer

For many years I had been one to engorge myself in junk foods that are high in fat. I am not over weight. In fact, I am 5’5” and weigh 130 pounds. Just because someone eats a lot of foods they are not supposed to, does not mean they will gain lots of weight or show it from the outside.  Little did I know the harm these foods could do to me. Not to mention what they could do over time if I did not do something about it. Recently, I decided to make a life-long change for my body that will increase the longevity of my life. It will help me slim down a little bit but my main purpose is for my overall health. Before this change, my parents would always tell me not to eat certain foods or to eat it in moderation, but I would not listen. My parents never forced me to eat certain foods. At the time, all I cared about was the flavor. I mean, what teenager doesn’t? Even though from the outside one could not see any changes, these foods were taking a toll on my body from the inside. At the time, I could not seem to connect the dots. Now that I am 21 years old it all makes sense. Somehow, something just clicked and I knew it was time for a change.

During our younger years, my brother and I always ate those yummy foods that kids enjoyed. We have always been fairly thin. At the time we were too young to care about how these foods would affect our later years. We ate things like chips, soda, and ice cream. At times we would have these items multiple times in one day. Just writing that sentence makes me cringe. It makes me think how I could have been so foolish. Sometimes instead of eating the healthy meal my mom had prepared for dinner, I would grab a bag of chips and salsa and it would serve as my dinner. Or if I did eat it, I would eat just a little of it. Thirty minutes later my family would catch me eating my fatty foods. As I got older, I was always hurting myself. My bones and muscles ached all the time and I seemed to get sick a lot. I did not connect all of these aches and pains to my diet. In reality, my body was quickly becoming depleted of its nutrients, vitamins, protein, and everything a body needs to keep functioning properly. One day, my mom sat me down for a serious talk. She told me, “If you don’t start eating better and making better food choices, it is going to be hard to reverse the affects once you get older.” She shared how a lot of the problems I was having related to my eating habits. Our family has a history of conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and brittle bones. These are all due to poor eating habits. Now that I am older and I have been taking college courses for Pre-Nursing, I am much more aware of things that affect my health.

Unhealthy foods are so easy accessible and much more affordable. For these reasons alone, many people choose them over healthier food choices. Why would someone pay more for fresh vegetables when they can buy canned vegetables and pay less? Canned vegetables are already cooked and only need to be heated through. Yes, they may be convenient but what they do not realize is that they are also filled sodium (salt) to help preserve them. Eating foods high in sodium is not healthy smart. People may also choose to buy foods at a fast food restaurant for its convenience but these too are not the best food choice on a regular basis. Ronnie Cummins, the national director of the Organic Consumers Association states, “Forty percent of American meals are now bought and consumed outside the home, typically consisting of high-calorie, low-nutrition items such as soft drinks, french fries, and low-grade meat laced with fat, cheap sweeteners, pesticide residues, chemical additives and salt” (Morriss and Cummins par.20). This statistic only confirms that more people are choosing unhealthy choices. Today many American’s are resorting to fast food restaurants because of their busy schedules. We are a society that is “on the go.” Our schedules demand that we do things in a matter of minutes, and eating is no exception. Even though fast food is available easy and fast, overtime its content is destructive to our bodies. One may not see results right away, but over time they will take a toll on our bodies.

We need to promote a healthier lifestyle and help people make better choices. One way that may help people stay away from unhealthy foods is to tax these foods. This tax can help veer people away from them. People are more apt to choose the healthier foods because they are less expensive. This taxation will eventually accumulate and can be used to promote healthier food choices. As mentioned in “Battle Lines,” “having at least a three cent taxation on every 12 oz. can of soda can raise a tremendous about of money over a time period of 10 years” (“Battle Lines” par.4). The more money that is raised, the more it can be used to avert unhealthy substances. Yes, putting a tax on these foods can be beneficial; however, parents play a big role as well. This “fat tax” could help serve as an obvious cue to parents that something needs to be done. This in turn can provoke parents to learn more about their health and how unhealthy foods contribute to sickness and disease. Having a tax on these foods can make it much easier for parents to say “No” to those last minute unwholesome food items at the check-out line. The Center for Disease Control states that even, “a penny-per-ounce tax on soda could be expected to reduce consumption 13%, eliminating about 8,000 calories annually from the typical American’s diet.” (qtd.“Taxing Sodas” par.7)

Whether a one-cent taxation or a three-cent taxation on unhealthy foods, overtime its accumulation will benefit a healthier lifestyle. This small tax amount may not appear to be significant. These small beginnings are a way to start off small and work up to a potential goal rather than forcing a huge tax at once. As a nation we need to realize, not only as individuals but as a whole, unwholesome foods prevent our lives from the quality of life we could have. It is time we focus on a much bigger picture, take a stand, and make a difference.

Works Cited

“Battle Lines Drawn Over Soda, Junk Food Taxes | Diabetes Forecast Magazine.”

N.p.,2006.Web. 23 Sept. 2013.

Morriss, Andrew P., and Ronnie Cummins. “The News Tribune.” Pro & Con: Should Junk Food

Be Taxed? N.p., 12 May 2012. Web. 30 Sept. 2013.

“Taxing Sodas for a Healthier Economy?” TIME.com. N.p.,12 Jul. 2010. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.

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15 thoughts on “Fat Tax: Putting a dent in consumers wallets for the better

  1. I extremely agree with what you are saying about the obesity and health problems in America, except I’m not sure if a junk food tax will necessarily prevent people from buying junk food, or choose other options. As mentioned in the example article for our class by Nicholas Clark on Smoking package labels, whether paying the extra tax or having warning labels on the food, it would be no problem to someone who is addicted. Which it’s funny to say someone who is “addicted” to junk food, but I believe people are addicted to junk food in a way. Even if the tax does raise the total price of the item, I doubt the increase would be significant enough to change the type of food they bought. The dollar menu at McDonalds or Burger King would most likely still be cheaper, let alone it being already prepared and taste good. I like the idea, but I believe teaching people at a young age, like your mother did to you, would be a more successful. But how would we get people to take more health education? Just my opinion. Enjoyed the article! 😀

  2. I understand that unhealthy eating along with obesity has become a major problem within the U.S., though I am not convinced that a tax on junk foods would fix the problem. For one this means more government intervention on social issues, which I am strongly against. I also think that people who eat lots of junk food are set in their ways and will not be deterred by a tax.

  3. I agree with you on the fact that these junk foods are not good for our bodies, but as a child I was very active and I feel like I could eat what I want, because I had a good metabolism. Though you make a very good point, I feel like taxing fatty foods would not stop people from eating it, and why should I myself have to pay a tax, when I’m not fat. I realize when to stop and workout regularly. This may not be the case for all Americans, but that’s the rights we have, and putting a tax on something won’t make them stop, people didn’t stop smoking when the tax was put on tobacco. I feel this is the same thing.

  4. I agree with your blog post. I just turned 21, and have been overweight since at least 5th or 6th grade. I was told I was at my maximum weight then. I was 170 pounds and 5ft 6 at the time. I am currently 6ft and I weight 270 pounds. Yes, I NEED to lose weight. Heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure run in my family, but especially diabetes. There has only been one case of heart disease in my family so far, and that is with my grandpa. I still go for taste in food as well as choose the most convenient way to get it — fast food. I don’t agree with taxing the food. It doesn’t work. Adding the mayor’s tax to eating out didn’t stop Americans from doing such. Americans like unhealthy food, I really don’t think a few cent tax is going to do anything. Sure, people will complain as always about there being another tax, but does that stop them from eating out as often? No. What might work is an outrageous tax, like a dollar or more. I really enjoyed your blog! Great job!

  5. While I agree with you’re proposal, I fear that it would take a much larger tax on fatty foods to actually divert Americans from eating them. Cigarettes are currently being really highly taxed and it doesn’t stop smokers from smoking. Although, I’m sure people aren’t quite as addicted to fatty foods as they are to cigarettes.

    I think it’s important that you mentioned the unhealthy side effects of eating unhealthy other than being overweight. My brother has diabetes,Type 1, which is genetic not Type 2 which is due to weight, but nonetheless his lifestyle is drastically different to that of mine. He has to poke him self with a needle ideally about eight times a day. Sometimes he can’t eat when he is hungry and other times he has to eat when he’s not. Often he wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the kitchen and eat bowls of cereal or candy bars or anything sugary just to keep his blood sugar up. If he had gotten diabetes due to being overweight, it would be exponentially harder for him to attempt to diet while also healthily controlling his diabetes.

    We need to teach children the lessons they would learn from a health issue long before they actually have this healthy issue. It’s easy for a teenager to think “Well I’m not fat now so why would I be later? I’m not sick now so why would I be later?” and it’s because of this that we need to instill caution in them before hand. If parents won’t teach their children, a fat tax hopefully should.

  6. Your article is very effective, I loved that you talked more about what the potentially harmful effects that junk food can do to your body on the INSIDE than on the OUTSIDE. People that just have those remarkably high metabolisms and don’t see the effects on the outside of their body tend to ignore the information about how unhealthy some food is. The battle to make our nation healthier is going to prove harder than expected, and we might need a little more than taxation on cans of soda; there was that story about how the mayor of New York City tried to ban large sugary drinks in restaurants and limit soft drink sizes and received a major adverse reaction to the proposal. If we’re going to make our country a healthier place we may need to band together and create some plans that America as a majority could agree with, but you propose a very good start to it.

  7. A common problem in the US would be obesity and over eating of unhealthy junk food. I think that even with a tax on these foods it would not stop the consumer from buying these harmful products. This is such a big debate within the US and their could possibly be many ways around this topic. We just need to put one out there.

  8. This article is well written. I completely agree with that people in America need to learn to be smarter about what they eat. But in your example, you said that for dinner you would just take a bag of chips and salsa and that would be your dinner. Would a small extra tax really prevent you from eating that? Or would that small tax prevent your family from purchasing these things? The Bob Devaney Center construction project was funded completely off of a tax on cigarettes. The prices for cigarettes went up, and everyone who wanted them kept buying them. This helped the city raise enough money to afford this monumental project. My point is that a tax would most likely not be as effective as we would like. The key to creating a healthier America is education on healthy eating. Some might argue that you got educated on healthy eating by your parents allowing you to indulge in your early years. That helped you learn from your experiences how you should and should not treat your body.

  9. I totally agree about what junk food does to your body inside and out, but taxing junk food I believe won’t stop people from buying it. People still have food stamps and won’t care how much tax is because it is free money to them. I also don’t think people will care if the taxes go up because we are so used to paying high prices.

  10. Regardless if taxing unhealthy foods will stop people from buying it or not, it’s at least a step in the right direction! With obesity rates being as high as they are in the U.S. and with so many unhealthy food choices for us to buy, it is extremely Important that we do something to help American’s healthier choices. We have to start somewhere and taxing unhealthy foods seems like a great place to start.

  11. I find myself thinking about this problem all the time. WHY do healthy foods cost soooo much money and I could go get a “cheeseburger” (not that it’s really meat anyway) for a dollar? It is absolutely ridiculous how much of a price difference there is between the healthy foods and unhealthy foods. I am not positive that just putting a tax on the food will solve the problem but it would make people think twice. Great article

  12. My only issue with this article is the definition of healthy vs junk food. We think of something like almonds as a very healthy food right? Almonds are extremely calorie dense clocking, in at 5.29 KCal/g where as something like Ice Cream is around 2.16 KCal/g. While soda tax on the surface seems like a good idea, there are plenty of “juice” looking drinks out there that have not only more calories per serving, but sugar per serving as well! It seems to me that in addition to whatever taxes you want to levy, you must also add some sort of reward for good behavior.

  13. I agree that something must be done about Americas consumption’s, but i don’t think a tax will stop anyone from eating the junk food. It is a personal choice that needs to be made from them, not the government. Also how will the government determine which foods to tax, this could become a very sticky situation and be debated if its necessary for government assistance, it needs to be the buyers choice.

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