by 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.
“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.