Taxation for Curbing Obesity

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The present issue of lousy nourishment utilization and the all-inclusive obesity battle in America relentlessly plagues our nation. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on junk food yearly. Junk food is so termed due to high sugars and fats and low in other necessary nutrients. American obesity, which afflicts roughly one hundred million people, reflects this astonishing level of consumption. The problem is only getting worse. The increasing rates of obesity leave legislators and health care officials equivalently scrambling for a solution to reverse the progression. A proposed resolution of taxation of the principal culprit has taken action to benefit one’s health fundamentals. Junk food in America should be highly taxed because it would reduce obesity, improve nutrition, and overall health.

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The on-going and the most problematic reason for taxing junk food in America is to reduce obesity. The term, ‘junk food’ typically qualifies as foods that posses excessive degrees of fat, salt or sugar. It also provides an insufficient amount of nutrients themselves or is replaced for greater nutritional products. Many factors influence what we eat and drink, especially how much it cost. “Comparing food intake in 1985 and 1995, junk food consumption increased dramatically. The number of children classified as overweight or obese doubled (to 20 percent) and this trend has continued since, although at a slower rate” (Stanton). By increasing the costs of junk foods, people will start to purchase less. Consumption of high kilojoule junk foods and drinks is a major factor in obesity so it seems obvious that we need to find ways to reduce consumption of these products.

Today, all we see in most advertisements are young children as the face of unhealthy foods. Fast forwarding into the future to the time when these little kids will have become obese, have lost a leg to diabetes, or be on dialysis three times a week. It’s time to take action the effects on sugar and salt. “Having kids advertise unhealthy foods should be allowed no more, for it promotes junk eating which could then leads to obesity and other health problems” (‘Before We All Die of Obesity, It’s Time We Taxed Salt and Sugar’). Increasing taxation for unhealthy foods decreases the number of advertisements produced, resulting in promoting Americans less.

The potential upsides of taxes are big if applied smartly. Taxes might reduce the intake of junk food, with the side effect of making junk food healthier. Food manufacturers won’t let their sales drop because of higher prices. Taxation will generate a lot of extra tax dollars. “A penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would generate almost $10 billion annually in the United States” (Marron). This is similar to the revenue raised by the tobacco tax and could be used to improve education and fund other healthy-eating campaigns, or even to subsidize healthier foods.

Another reason for taxing unhealthy foods is to improve nutrition. “By tweaking the prices of foods and drinks, to make healthy options more affordable relative to the less healthy products, we can influence what people will buy” (Cobiac). This will result in an increase of healthful food consumptions, improving one’s nutrition over time. Taxing junk food components such as sugars, saturated fats, excess salt, and subsidizing healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, focus on turning price arrangements in favor of choosing healthier options. This study adds to a growing body of evidence showing large health benefits and cost-effectiveness of using taxes and regulations to influence the consumption of healthy foods.

Taxation of junk food subsidies healthful foods and effects the nutritional content of a person’s shopping basket. Study author and clinical psychologist Dr. Leonard, performed an experiment on how junk food taxes caused a real shift in nutritional quality because the money saved on junk food was spent on healthy food. The study separated the junk food from the healthy. As expected by many, “taxing junk food reduced junk food purchases, and subsidizing healthy food increased healthy food purchases” (Laskawy). This is not the end of the story. It was discovered that taxing the junk was extremely more effective from a nutritional point of view than just subsidizing the healthful alone.

Due to the increasing prices of junk food, it leaves these product producers with less money to advertise. Without lots of money to advertise, people won’t be as influenced into wanting to purchase these junk food products. “Advertising has a modest effect on children’s food preferences. We believe even a relatively small positive impact from new advertising restrictions could make a meaningful contribution to tackling this important health issue” (‘Launch of Public Consultation on New Food Ad Rules’). Subsiding prices of healthful foods would result in more money for advertisements. People are bombarded with advertisements for junk food. If those advertisements of junk food could influence people to consume them, then it is possible to do the same with healthful product advertisements.

Lastly and most importantly, Taxing junk food in America can improve one’s health overall. Communities are drowning in a swamp of unhealthy junk foods, leading to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Added sugars in one’s food and drinks are a major threat to public health. Healthy food can be expensive and hard to find in many places. “In the wake of two recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing increased rates of obesity and high sodium intake, three leading health advocates have proposed a seven-pronged approach to preventing obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer” (Healthy Food America). Individuals need to be educated about how consuming junk food affects the body in many negative ways.

As Americans eat their way to an increasingly high percentage of junk food, a number of unhealthy consequential medical conditions follow. “Dietary factors were associated with more than 529,000 deaths in 2016 in the United States, making them the leading risk factor for mortality, according to the authors, citing the U.S. Burden of Disease Collaborators” (Healthy Food America). One of the most common obesity-related diseases are diabetes, and more specifically, type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels are above normal and is the most common type of diabetes. Family history and genes play a large role in type 2 diabetes. Other risk factors include a low activity level, poor diet, and excess body weight around the waist. “More than 87% of adults with diabetes are overweight or obese. It isn’t clear why people who are overweight are more likely to develop this disease. It may be that being overweight causes cells to change, making them resistant to the hormone insulin” (‘Health Risks of Being Overweight’). Insulin carries sugar from the blood to the cells, where it is used for energy. When a person is insulin resistant, blood sugar cannot be taken up by the cells, resulting in high blood sugar. In addition, the cells that produce insulin must work extra hard to try to keep blood sugar normal. This may cause these cells to gradually fail.

A few other common diseases are high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. These three conditions accommodate one another. Blood pressure is how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. High blood pressure (hypertension) usually has no symptoms, but it may cause serious problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. High blood pressure is linked to overweight and obesity in several ways. Having a large body size may increase blood pressure because your heart needs to pump harder to supply blood to all your cells. Excess fat may also damage your kidneys, which help regulate blood pressure. Heart disease is a term used to describe several problems that may affect your heart. The most common type of problem happens when a blood vessel that carries blood to the heart becomes hard and narrow. This may keep the heart from getting all the blood it needs. Other problems may affect how well the heart pumps. “People who are overweight or obese often have health problems that may increase the risk for heart disease. These health problems include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. In addition, excess weight may cause changes to your heart that make it work harder to send blood to all the cells in your body” (Health Risks of Being Overweight). Lastly, a stroke happens when the flow of blood to a part of your brain stops, causing brain cells to die. The most common type of stroke, called ischemic stroke, occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery that carries blood to the brain. Another type of stroke, called hemorrhagic stroke, happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. “Studies have shown that obesity was significantly associated with high blood pressure” (Dulskiene). High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. Excess weight also increases your chances of developing other problems linked to strokes, including high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and heart disease.

The last and one of the most severe consequential result of the obesity-related diseases is cancer. So, what exactly is cancer? Cancer occurs when cells in one part of the body, such as the colon, grow abnormally or out of control. The cancerous cells sometimes spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. “Having too much belly fat, regardless of body weight, is linked with an increased risk of colon and rectal cancer, and is probably linked to a higher risk of cancers of the pancreas, endometrium, and breast cancer (in women past menopause). But the links between body weight and cancer are complex and are not yet fully understood” (‘Does Body Weight Affect Cancer Risk?’). Also, eating or physical activity habits that may lead to being overweight may also contribute to cancer risk.

Although taxing junk food may be the most effective way to reduce obesity, improve nutrition and overall health, it still has its negative effects and uncertainties. These negative effects and uncertainties include: hitting households who are poor, a fat tax can inadvertently tax healthy foods, and there is no guarantee that eating patterns will shift. Most people want to purchase healthy, fresh foods. The problem is that these foods tend to cost the most. Those who are poor may be unable to purchase them, so they rely on foods that could be included in a fat tax. “Since households that are poor typically spend up to 30% of their total income on food, they would be hit in two ways by this process” (’11 Pros and Cons of a Fat Tax’). They’d still be unable to afford the healthier foods and they’d be forced to pay more for the foods they can afford. A fat tax must be written with specificity to make sure healthy foods aren’t captured in a blanket taxation policy. Some high-fat foods, such as nuts, avocados, and salmon, are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and can even lower a person’s blood pressure. “A difference between saturated and unsaturated fats must be included in the policy for the fat tax to be effective. A fat tax can also shift a consumer’s food choices away from specific foods because they cost more, but that doesn’t guarantee a result” (’11 Pros and Cons of a Fat Tax’). Consumers could just shift to unhealthy food choices that fall outside the taxation brackets. They may choose to eat unhealthy portions of “acceptable” foods instead or choose not to get enough physical activity every day. Food is only one part of the complex puzzle that leads to a person becoming overweight or obese.

Taxes, nutrition, and what we eat and drink are highly resonant issues for many people. “Well-designed taxes can encourage people to make healthier eating and drinking choices and can encourage businesses to develop and market healthier products” (Marron). In so doing, they can improve health. But even the best-designed taxes are imperfectly targeted and create a regressive tax burden. People vary significantly in their metabolisms, behavior, nutritional knowledge, and personal circumstances. Eating moderate amounts of sugar and other potentially unhealthy nutrients and ingredients are consistent with good health. Moreover, policymakers might not design taxes as well as possible. Taxes are thus an imperfect instrument for addressing nutrition and health concerns. They may make sense as part of larger policy efforts, particularly to address widespread concerns about excess sugar and saturated fat consumptions. But there is no substitute for efforts to identify and help people at the greatest risk from obesity, diabetes, and related conditions.

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Taxation for Curbing Obesity. (2019, Dec 23). Retrieved February 3, 2023 , from

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