Taxing Unhealthy Foods to Overcome
Obesity has been a rising issue in the United States in the last couple of decades. It is estimated that approximately 34% of adults and 15-20% of children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese. (Mitchell, 2011) In order to combat these rising numbers, there have been multiple propositions on how people can prevent becoming obese. Of course, programs have been utilized nationwide such as Let's Move, a program started by Mitchell Obama that targets school aged children. This program primarily encourages children to exercise daily in order to stay healthy and avoid becoming overweight.In order to become healthy, an individual must not only consistently exercise, but they must also eat healthy. By eating a healthier diet and drinking more water, people are able to avoid trans-fat or saturated fat that can cause them to become obese.
In America, there is an overconsumption of junk food and unhealthy food as a whole because it is: convenient, relatively cheap, and tasty. Therefore, more people are consuming this type of food and becoming obese. One solution to reduce obesity, due to the overconsumption of junk food, would be to tax unhealthy foods in order to reduce their consumption. Americans should tax their unhealthy foods because it would encourage consumers to purchase healthier food, reduce the risk of diseases that are prevalent among people with obesity, and allow the future generation to live a healthier lifestyle. People with obesity are at a higher risk for other diseases such as cardiovascular diseases.
According to the CDC, more than 610,000people die from heart disease in the United States which means that is 1 in every 4 people. (CDC, 2015) By reducing the risk of obesity, people are able to avoid these cardiovascular diseases and reduce the mortality rates. Leading scientists and various researchers are now suggesting that by directing the attention to food consumption as a way to tackle the obesity epidemic, individuals will be able to become accustomed to eating healthier (Franck, 2013). The main idea behind the tax would be to allow consumers to choose a healthier food option because it is cheaper than junk food. Not only would the consumer benefit from the healthier option, but they will be able to save money on the purchase.
This would also encourage a healthier lifestyle which can be passed on to future generations. On the other hand, individuals argue that taxing junk food is unnecessary because all people really need is to be educated on healthier food options. Education is an important tacticto improve people's food choices, but it is a known fact that most people would choose cost over nourishment. Some parents are aware of the types of foods their children should be consuming, but because those types are foods are expensive to purchase they choose the cheaper option; this cheaper option can later affect the health of their children and even put them at risk for serious diseases. Of course, people would argue that food is food, and anything can be eaten in moderation but living a healthier lifestyle can improve the quality of life people live.
This can also affect the amount of years people get to live and how they will be living their life. Although junk food offers some nutritional value, it mainly leads people to overeat because it is low in the necessary nutrition people need to carry out their lives. Moreover, this type of food carries empty calories which means it has no nutritional value and carries only unnecessary substances into their body. This tax is more than just making the government money. Some arguments address the fact that people in lower income homes would be greatly affected. This tax would not allow them to purchase the necessary amount of food needed in order to avoid starvation. It issaid to be unfair and citizens are stating they are not in favor of paying more taxes to the government.
However, taxing junk food is bigger than the revenue it will entail or the government involvement, it helps creates a healthier future. If people with lower income levels eat unhealthy foods their whole lives, they will end up paying more in health care costs due to their susceptibility to costly health defects. This tax is a step towards building healthier individuals that are less susceptible to diseases. It would not only reduce the amount of unhealthy food consumption in America but reduce the costs of treating medical conditions and it will be adding additional revenue to the economy. By implementing a tax on unhealthy foods, the government can utilize this money to treat the health care costs of obesity.
Therefore, the government can then lower the cost of healthier food options. By allowing junk food to be taxed, people are reducing their risk of becoming obese. As a result, they are less susceptible to becoming sick and avoiding unnecessary treatment by the health care system. In 2008, the medical costs associated with obesity and obesity-related illnesses totaled US$147 billion in the United States. (Finkelstein, 2009) Obesity is becoming an epidemic and it is due to people's nutritional choices. Several other countries have already began taxing several food items in order to improve their public health.
For example, in Hungary, a $.04 tax has been put in place on products with high fat, salt, and sugar in order to help cover the cost of health care. (Cheney, 2011) This has become beneficial not only for the Hungarian economy but also for the quality of life of their citizens. It has been proven before that taxing something unfavorable can reduce the consumption of it. For example, the 2014 Surgeon's General Report suggested to increase taxes in order to reduce the use of tobacco products.
The report stated that the large tax increased prices in tobacco products which actually depleted the use of tobacco each time it was implemented. (HHS, 2014) In this report, it stated that taxing cigarettes was one of the most effective tobacco control intervention and reduced smoking especially among the younger population. (HHS, 2014) If taxing cigarettes was effective to lower an unhealthy behavior, then taxing unhealthy foods can also have a similar result. People will choose to be healthy not only for the health benefits but also for the cost to feed themselves and their families. Overall, people should strongly consider taxing unhealthy foods not only to discourage the consumption of these foods, but to reduce the obesity rates in America. This tax can be the first step towards reducing the obesity epidemic that has been rising in the past couple of decades. This would encourage consumers to purchase healthy foods more often and be able to help future generations live a healthier lifestyle.
Ultimately, opposing arguments against the tax should reconsider the benefits this would bring to the lives of many. Finally, this tax would encourage the consumption of healthier food options, improve their overall quality of life, and allow them to continue these habits for generations to come therefore reducing obesity rates.