Fast Food Tax vs. the Freedom of Choice

Political Cartoon (3)by Austin Ehlers

I quite simply love fast food. It may be an unhealthy choice for a daily meal, but it is a choice. If I want to eat fast food for a meal, I should be able to make that decision on my own, without anyone forcing, or even persuading me to do differently. Why should the government decide what we should eat and what we should not eat? Truth is, it’s our right as a U.S. citizen to choose what we want to eat, because it is part of our lifestyles.

A tax on fast food would quite simply be an infringement on American citizen’s rights. In the journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity “the complexity of responsibilities regarding overweight is disregarded; and interventions infringe upon personal freedom regarding lifestyle choices and raising children,” (Have, Beaufort, Teixeira, Mackenbach, and Heide 669). We all have one life to live and we all want to live it our way. If someone loves fast food, why should it be it excluded from their diet (which is a huge part of someone’s life) without their say? The freedom of choice is one of the great benefits that this nation provides. By taxing fast food, it becomes eventually unaffordable and forces the people that choose to enjoy it to choose another alternative or heavily overpay– that is not the American way of life.

The truth about the obesity epidemic is that many Americans hold an obscured belief that obesity is a chosen lifestyle. I have heard endless illogical comments from friends or others my age who are in at least considerable shape and hold little experience or understanding of the true causes of obesity. I have heard comments like “just get the fat sucked out”, “they could eat a salad and hit a gym once in a while”, or “Why do they get overweight in the first place? It’s not that hard”. Not only are comments such as these illogical and misinformed, they also take a harsh stance against those who are obese and view them as an outcast group of society. In the online Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, political author W.A. Bogart states “To Provide good solutions, those charged with responding must first, more or less, agree about the nature of the problem” (Bogart 28). The American public has been heavily misinformed on obesity and jumps to many conclusions on how to fix the problem seeing it as a problem with a simple and swift solution. The reality is that obesity is a complicated problem that comes from serious health issues such as eating disorders or the lack dietary knowledge and exercise.

I am 19, almost 20 years old, and I am five foot eight, one hundred and sixty pounds, with six percent body fat. I’m not trying to be arrogant or smug about my body, but I would consider myself to be in extremely good shape and to be very physically fit. I usually workout five days a week to improve my fitness and maintain my health. On average I eat fast food two to four times a week. On top of eating fast food, I also drink soda or sugary drinks on almost a daily basis, as well eating other unhealthy foods throughout my day, I still do not struggle to maintain my health and fitness. I know reading this, you may say “you’re only 19, and your metabolism is still great” or “you have the time to work out, I don’t”. Both may be true, but I am one example of countless that prove people can stay healthy even while consuming unhealthy things. I’m saying being in good physical shape and being physically fit is just a simple task, but it most cases be obtained.

The true dilemma lies within the individual, not within the government’s power. We all have the right to make our own choices and are well aware of the consequences. There are other solutions to the obesity epidemic instead of taxing fast food and forcing it out of people diets. In this article for the Herald Sun [Australia], Rita Panahi states, “Fast food is not nicotine; in moderation it is not detrimental to one’s health and those who choose to indulge should be able to do so without the fat police working themselves up into a rich, righteous lather.” (Panahi par. 24) If people are well aware and educated about dietary health and obesity, people have a great starting point and platform to avoid and eliminate obesity. If people choose to eat fast food, they also have to choose how to deal with that calorie intake. They can burn the calories through or just eat it in moderation and eat healthier foods for other meals. But these are choices that lie within the individual and their way of lifestyle, and no one has the right to tell them differently.

Don’t get me wrong, the obesity epidemic is a serious and growing problem that needs to be fixed for public safety. But we can find other solutions that do not infringe upon people’s rights or force people away from the fast food that they enjoy. This is the United States of America and every citizen has the right to make their own decisions. Period.

Works Cited

Bogart, W.A.. “Law as a Tool in “The War on Obesity”: Useful Interventions, maybe, But, First, What’s the Problem?” Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. (2013): 28-41. Print. September 25, 2013. Academic Search Complete.

Have, M. ten, I. D. de Beaufort, P. J. Teixeira, J. P. Mackenbach and A. van der Heide. “Ethics and prevention of overweight and obesity: an inventory.” International Association for the Study of Obesity. 12. (2011): 669-679. Print. September 29, 2013. Academic Search Complete.

Panahi, Rita. “FAST FOOD TAX? That’d do a fat lot of good.” Herald Sun [Australia] August 12, 2013, FIRST Edition Pg. 26. Web. September 29, 2013. LexisNexis.

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5 thoughts on “Fast Food Tax vs. the Freedom of Choice

  1. Interesting article. I found myself feeling very flip floppy about the issue. Not because your view was not clear but because I began to consider both sides of the situation. Healthier food is now more expensive than fast food. That is a problem in itself. If the government were to tax fast food, therefore closing the price gap in fast food and healthy food, perhaps more Americans would decide on purchasing healthier foods. But then comes the issue of American rights. I do agree that everyone should be able to choose what they eat and spend their money on. You commented on how people view fat people as “an outcast group of society”. You proceeded to call these views “illogical and misinformed”. One thing that is also completely illogical and misinformed, is our country’s view on what a real meal should consist of. Many Americans fail to stop and think about getting their adequate daily vegetable, fruit, dairy, carbohydrate and protein servings. A balanced diet is foreign knowledge to many Americans. So with this, you may call Americans’ view on food illogical and misinformed because they often do not consider the importance of a balanced diet. Thought provoking article, nice work.

  2. Very good article. I liked how not matter what you stand your ground and basically not let anything contradict you. I can highly relate to this. I eat junk food mostly on an everyday basis and I’m still able to maintain myself at a healthy weight level. Not only would people who enjoy fast food be affected emotionally, but monetarily as well. They will try almost anything to keep eating what they enjoy at no cost. There shouldn’t be a tax imposed on fast food. If there was a tax imposed on fast food wouldn’t that contradict the first amendment? Are we really having the freedom that we want and deserve? We are not harming anyone, in fact we are helping fast food companies grow, therefore keeping this country “running.” Great job!

  3. I’m on the fence about whether or not there should be a tax on fast food. I totally understand what you’re saying about the fact that you are in shape and like to indulge in fast food without having to pay a high tax for it. Even myself, being physically active and conscious about what I eat, find myself on occasion indulging in fast food. The only problem that I have with it is all of the terrible additives and preservatives that can do more harm than good to our bodies in the long run, if consumed on a regular basis. I think the focus for taxing fast food should focus more on the bad stuff we are consuming when eating fast food rather than the fact that it can affect someone becoming obese, or more obese.

  4. So, there are countless studies which relate obesity to various medical conditions: hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol; all of which can lead to stroke, heart attacks etc…There is an enormous cost to treating these conditons. That cost, at least in Canada, is covered through taxation. Which would you rather be taxed for? I’d like to address your comment “We all have the right to make our own choices and are well aware of the consequences. There are other solutions to the obesity epidemic instead of taxing fast food and forcing it out of people diets.” First, we do not have the right to make our own choices. That is a simplistic approach to life. Do you have the right to infect your partner with HIV or shoot your neighbour? How aware of the consequences are you if you perfrom such acts? How aware are you about the negative effects of ingesting fastfood? What are the other “solutions” for the “obesity epidemic”?

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