Should There Be a Tax on Junk Food and Sugar Drinks? Posted in: Featured, Food Power – Tags: , , , , , ,

Just behind tobacco, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the USA. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 300,000 deaths per year are due to poor diet and lifestyle choices.

So, should the USA start taxing sugary drinks and junk foods? In my opinion, yes. I accept I’m in the denominator there. In a fairly recent CBS poll, 72% of Americans believe any food tax wouldn’t help in the fight against weight gain, but is that just a defensive response to the situation at hand?

In a country where liquor and tobacco are both taxed, as a deterrent to inhibit overconsumption, why should junk food escape the grip of uncle Sam. They offer little in terms of nutritional benefit, often depleting our bodies of vital nutrients. Over half the population of Northern America consumes fast food once a week while 20% eat fast food every other day. I eat fast food once a week, it’s readily available and it’s cheap, you rarely see meal deals in the form of ‘buy 3 apples get a free orange’, not the same for fast and junk food.

The state of health care is not exactly positive currently, we don’t need to contribute to conditions like heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Should There Be a Tax on Junk Food and Sugar Drinks?

Should There Be a Tax on Junk Food and Sugar Drinks?

How about other countries? Denmark introduced a fat tax in October 2011, however it was abolished just over a year later due to it failing to change the eating habits of the Danes’. The Danish Tax Ministry also announced that the tax encouraged cross border trading, while putting jobs at risk. Also referring to the tax as a ‘bureaucratic nightmare‘.

Mette Gjerskov, the Danish minister of food, agriculture and fisheries, stated that “the fat tax is one of the most criticized we had in a long time. Now we have to try to improve public health by other means.” It led to numerous complaints from Danish retailers that their customers were taking their business to other countries, to take advantage of their lower prices. This sounds a nightmare to enforce, but what’s the alternative?

The other side of the coin shines quite bright however, in a country whose population is about 5.6 million people, Denmark managed to pull an additional $216 million in revenue, the population of the USA is about 319 million. Basic math tells us the government could save around 56 times this much in Northern America, and that’s not taking into account that their obesity rates were lower.

If the money from this potential tax could be put to good use, it could potentially go a long way to fixing the problem, it would prevent more people purchasing nutritionally poor quality food, while generating cash in the process, cash that hypothetically could be used to subsidize the price of healthier food and help to promote consumption of a more wholesome diet, putting a much lesser strain on the health-care sector.

Should There Be a Tax on Junk Food and Sugar Drinks?

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It’s much harder to pick up healthy fast food, probably because it’s much easier to manufacture poor quality food and load it with fatty flavor carriers, but that shouldn’t just be the status quo. It should be easier to find high quality options for diets, not harder.

Perhaps this ideology belongs in the brain of, well, a dreamer. However it shouldn’t just be the case that 35.7 percent of adults in the US are deemed to be obese. If we keep enabling the consumption of junk food by parading the new ‘megamelt’ 6 cheese 2 patty fried delight from a major fast food chain every night while we sit in front of the TV, we simply can’t win, but we can at least help our generation and the next lead a healthy lifestyle by taxing junk food soon.

As always let me know your thoughts on this issue, I’m not saying don’t enjoy these foods, just that a small tax couldn’t hurt.

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