Junk Food Tax
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The current issue of junk food consumption and the overall obesity battle in America continues to plague our nation. The suggestion to counteract this problem is the implementation of a “junk tax”. ProQuest states that, “’junk food tax’ refers to a tax placed upon fattening foods or beverages” (Par. 1). The intention of the tax is to minimize the consumption of unhealthy foods, which would expectantly lead to a healthier population. A junk food tax would also generate revenue for causes such as: improving diet, preventing obesity, and educating Americans about nutrition. The main purpose is to maximize health benefits. However, the tax has sparked controversy about interfering with freedom of choice and personal liberties. Fighting obesity and its various related illnesses does not require cholesterol lowering medicine, workout videos, or diet books.
It starts with rethinking our setting and the world we are living in. Addressing the issue of over-weight and the lack of health in America is no easy assignment, “despite some individual efforts by some states to tax soda pop, require healthier school lunches of mandate calorie information in chain restaurants, obesity rates in the United States are growing” (Cummins Par. 10). Even though these efforts have continued to grow with parents and health advocates the problem needs to be acknowledged nation wide because, “60 percent of Americans of either overweight or obese” (Cummins Par. 5). With many restaurants offering super sized meals for such low prices, people consume well over the recommended calorie and food intake. Fast food restaurants being open twenty-four hours a day located on every corner causes temptation to be all around consumers. Cummins states that, “a 100 percent tax on junk food and beverages would help pay for the collateral damages of this industry: the $150 billion in diet-related diseases and health-care costs now incurred by the public and taxpayers for obesity and diabetes” (Par. 16). The taxes would consequently provide funding to regulate junk food, its advertisement rates, and many other areas that would improve our health. The junk-food industry is under a similar attack seen in the 1990s by the tobacco industry. Comparably these two industries have hid the dangers of their products from the public for many years; just as tobacco taxes were put in place to reduce consumption so must the junk-food tax.
The movement has stirred controversy to the benefits of such a tax plan, and Americans’ prized personal freedom that health is one’s own responsibility. The tax on “fatty-foods” by the United States government is unjust and ultimately takes away several unalienable rights granted to Americans. People are individually responsible for their weight, what they eat, and their overall health. Stated by Andrew P. Morriss, from McClathy Newspapers, “the freedom to eat a slice of pie might now sound quite as stirring as freedom of speech, but the ability to choose how to live our lives is the most fundamental freedom” (Par. 3). Founded on beliefs so much differently than any other nation, America granting personal unalienable rights is the main outlier. The other major problem with imposition is the complexity that comes with the tax, which are the job-cuts in the affected businesses and the contribution to a decrease of consumer purchasing power.
Additionally the tax would also punish those who eat fast food only on rare occasions. Many healthy dieting Americans consume junk food in moderation, whether it is because they are short on time and fast food is the easiest solution or they want to snack a little on junky foods. With folks like these in the world it is wrong to penalize them with the tax and ultimately higher prices on junk foods. Morriss also writes, “trying to fine tune Americans’ diets via a junk food tax will further fatten the tax laws, and the wallets of accountants and tax lawyers” (Par. 6). Morriss and many like him agree that the implementation of the tax greatly benefits tax lawyers, and businessmen involved in the healthy food business.
Through U.S. spending of over thirty-five billion dollars per year on diet industry, very little has been shown to enlighten Americans of the issue. By simply issuing more public service announcements and leaving the tax unapplied, Americans will keep their freedom of choice to consume what they choose and begin to become educated on obesity and junk food related disease. Although the tax would charge consumers more for the junk food, people would think more about what they are eating and how healthy it is for their bodies. Enthusiasts agree that although it would benefit health food companies and lawyers because the benefits from the taxes would lead to subsidizing, the benefits would also help pay for educating the youth about healthy eating. Even though opposition to the tax would include far more unhealthy eaters than moderate junk food consumers, both sides have their reasons why they disagree with the tax.
Therefore, common ground must be established and a solution to the problem needs to be reached. Even though taxation on junk foods would ultimately never take away the individual liberty for one’s right to eat what they choose, the tax would cause consumers to keep in mind how much they are paying and what lack of healthiness comes with it. The proposition to help Americans become healthier and end the “junk food” tax debate should start by first taking away subsidies granted to junk food industries and then giving them to health food companies—organic or not. Without placing taxes on junk foods and simply taking away unhealthy food companies’ subsidies, prices would increase because of the companies need to maintain profit. As it would then cost more for a company to produce and sell its goods, they would raise the price of their own products. This would do the job of raising prices without ever placing a tax on the fatty foods. Even though having no tax would leave a lack of funds for paying the costs of diet-related diseases, other subsidies must be granted towards campaigns that encourage and educate those towards healthy dieting.
Cummins, Ronnie. “Tax on Junk Food Can Help Pay the Costs of Diet-Related Diseases.” McClatchy Newspapers. 10 May 2012: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 15 Oct 2012. Morris, Andrew P. “’Bad-Food’ Taxes Will Clog Our Economic Arteries Beyond Repair.” McClatchy Newspapers. 10 May 2012: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 15 Oct 2012. ProQuest staff. “At Issue: Junk Food Tax.” ProQuest LLC. 2012: n.pag. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 15 Oct 2012.