Allowing our government to regulate our society's weight by taxation is an absolute "No!" While taxing "unhealthy" products is constitutional, I do not believe it is the right step in preventing obesity. People are personally responsible for their weight, not the products. How would the government decide what items to tax? Practically any product could make you overweight if you ate it out of moderation. Allowing such a "fat tax" would only punish businesses. The argument that health care cost of obesity are sky-rocketing and that non-obese people are forced to share the burden could also be reworded as such- Obese people do not live as long as healthy people, so while health care cost are front loaded for obesity, healthy people generate health care expenses over several more decades.
Allowing a flat tax would generate more revenue for the government to cover health care, medical research, and other items. However, the government already taxes income, alcohol, cigarettes, gasoline, sales, and just about everything else in our lives. I do agree that such tax would discourage consumers from eating foods that aren't healthy for them. However, I do not agree that a fat tax is a cure to this epidemic problem our country faces.
Instead of a "fat tax" I would suggest a tax breaks. Instead of discouraging Americans from buying unhealthy products, let's encourage them through education and incentives and offer better nutritional minded lunches at our children's school. Let's not punish the citizens for making so called un-healthy choices by taxing them, and instead let's offer incentives and educate them.
Tax breaks would be much more encouraging to individuals. This would be fairer since we all know there is not a cure all for obese Americans. Indisputably we know there are hundreds of causes for obesity, and for every cause there is a solution. "However, it's important to note that in and of themselves, hamburgers, hotdogs, sodas, candy, white bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, and even apple pie don't cause obesity. Instead, with the exception of medical conditions, obesity most often results from individuals eating too much while exercising too little." (cfif.org)
That being said, there are a number of step our government can take in attempt to win the war against obesity. "For example, the federal government can continue and enhance its efforts to encourage responsible decision-making, promote increased exercise, and issue balanced dietary recommendations based on careful, unbiased science."(cfif.org)
We need to stop serving Sloppy Joes at our children's school. Children consume more than half of their daily calories at school, updating school meal nutrition standards and increasing funding for schools to buy better food would put the lunch-money kids' health on par with the brown-baggers'. As it is, those who eat lunches made at the school take in more fat and sodium than those who don't.
Health incentives should be offered instead of punishment. Studies suggest that if the price of a food product decrease, the consumption of that food product will increase. In one study a "health conscious" cafeteria offered everything healthy at a discount. In one instance, a vegetarian burger with a side salad is nearly half the price of a regular burger with fries. Water or diet sodas are also nearly one dollar cheaper than regular soft drinks. I personally believe this to be better approach than restricting food choices or introducing a 'fat tax'.
"Money motivates people to slim down. Overweight employees who were paid a small amount lost more weight than those who weren't compensated for their efforts, according to one of the first studies to examine such a strategy at workplaces. He teamed with researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to recruit more than 200 overweight or obese employees in North Carolina. A third was given no financial reward for their weight loss after three months; a third was given $7 for every 1% drop in their body weight; a third was given $14 for every 1% decrease. The participants were not given a structured diet and fitness program.
After three months, those who received no money lost an average of 2 pounds. Those in the $7 group lost 3 pounds; those in the $14 group lost 5 pounds.
Participants in the $14 group were more than five times more likely to lose 5% of their weight, an amount shown to provide health benefits. The findings are reported in September's Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine." (usa today)
What a great concept for consultants; when forced to eat out five days a week for every meal, having healthy and affordable options is a welcomed changed from having the choice between McDonalds and a greasy Asian fast food place!
Most importantly, our government should not be in the business of telling Americans what and what not to drink or what to eat. Our democracy is founded on the idea that individuals have basic freedoms. Among these, certainly, is the right to choose what we put on our plates and in our goblets. But the anti-food extremists like CSPI would gladly take away that freedom and mandate our diet in order to save us from ourselves. It is time for these zealous anti-food advocates to understand that it is not the federal government's job to save us from ourselves by making our choices for us.
Obesity has been labeled a crisis in America. And such labels all too frequently spur a Congressional impulse to "don't just sit there, do something." In this case, the Congress needs to resist this impulse. Let Americans continue to make free choices about what to eat and drink. Certainly, the federal government can and should continue to encourage us to make informed choices. Certainly, the federal government can and should help us understand what constitutes a balanced diet. And certainly, the federal government can and should help us sift through the myriad of scientific (and unscientific) information about the right combinations of diet and exercise. The government can and should take a more aggressive role in regulating the advertising and sale of diet schemes that fraudulently promise what they cannot deliver, often with disastrous health consequences.
Our government should not be allowed to start a journey of punishment through a "fat tax." In conclusion, the American citizens must make their own choices and be responsible for their own actions. If it were anything other way, our country would truly not be a democracy.
Manson, Marshall. "Manson testifies before committee". Feb. 3, 2010
Hellmich, Nancy. "Financial incentives can encourage weight loss". Feb. 3, 2010