Worried about: Anew tax, called, "fat" tax....a new tax at that, for junk food!

Nana_anna
By Nana_anna Latest Reply 2012-05-20 15:05:33 -0500
Started 2012-05-17 22:48:45 -0500

By LARA SALAHI (@BostonLara) and SAMANTHA MEANEY, M.D.

May 16, 2012

Calories, number of hours spent exercising, number of pounds to lose, those who are overweight now have a new number to worry about: a "fat" tax.

Adding a high tax on unhealthy food and drinks may help slow the rising rates of obesity, according to a new study published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal. Previous studies suggest that the sharp tax increase on cigarettes in 2009 has contributed to the dramatic decrease in the number of smokers in the U.S. And it's hoped a "fat" tax would work the same way.

A tax of at least 20 percent placed on sugar-sweetened drinks could drop obesity rates by 3.5 percent and prevent 2,700 heart-related deaths each year, according to the study.

Nearly 34 percent of Americans are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The growing obesity rate has led to high cholesterol, and an increase in chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer. The goal of the tax is to curb sales of unhealthy food and decrease overconsumption, which may help to prevent disease.

The study also called for subsidizing the cost of healthy foods and vegetables to make them more affordable to greater numbers of people.

A growing number of European countries, including Denmark and France, have already imposed a tax on unhealthy food and drinks.

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But not all foods that are high in fat are considered unhealthy, which may challenge the notion of imposing a blanket tax, some food policy experts said. It's important to first distinguish what food and drink should be labeled "unhealthy" before imposing a tax, they said.

"Some high fat food like nuts are related to reduced weight gain," said Dr. Walt Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard University's School of Public Health.

Salmon and avocados, also high in unsaturated so-called good fat, are also considered healthy foods. Unsaturated fat eaten in moderation can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

"A focus on sugar and refined starch is better, but as a first step I favor a focus just on sugar-sweetened beverages as the evidence is strongest for this," said Willett.

One out of five children drink three or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day, accounting for an extra meal, according to the HBO documentary series, "Weight of the Nation," which is airing this week.

Dr. Jana Klauer, a New York private practice nutrition physician, likened soda to a "gateway drug" to obesity.

"Sugary soda is nothing more than liquid calories which stimulate appetite," said Klauer.

Unhealthy foods and drinks are only a small contributor to many factors that lead to obesity, according to Martin Binks, a clinical psychologist and CEO of Binks Behavioral Health.

"Taxation may shift food choices away from those foods, but it provides no guarantee that the consumer will not simply shift to other unhealthy options and or continue to consume unhealthy quantities of all foods while also getting inadequate physical activity," said Binks.

Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine agreed that food is not the only culprit for obesity. Instead, the focus should lie on restoring physical activity programs and offering incentives and tax breaks for those who implement healthy behaviors – what he called, "actions that reward good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior.

"To solve the obesity crisis, people don't need more legislation, they need more motivation," he said.


3 replies

red flower lady
red flower lady 2012-05-20 15:05:33 -0500 Report

This may work since it is cheaper, easier for some to eat unhealthy foods and on the go then eat a healthy at home meal. If the prices for fresh, healthy food would come down and people were willing to cook it then it would be a good thing. But, we all know that isn't going to happen and people like the fast fix. Also, if they are going to tax us, then are they willing to give us a break if we don't buy the fat foods? I'm thinking beyond not paying the tax?

I would also like to see the tax money be used for something good. Put back PE classes in all schools, gym benefits or discounts on exercise equipment, health insurance reduction when we have reduced our weight, and basically gained better control over our health issues, etc. If the government want's to get into this, then it should be willing to do more then just "TAKE" our money:)

pixsidust
pixsidust 2012-05-18 11:57:18 -0500 Report

I would be for it if the money would go to health care for the uninsured or for subsidizing healthy alternatives so they can be much much cheaper but that will never happen so its a big brother thing. My son drinks sugary soda is 6 ft tall and weighs 165 so as Diabetes is not a one shoe fits all neither is those affected by sugar. He is against all artificial sweeteners except stevia.

Who is purposing this tax so we can vote against them? Obviously they would be in office now? Think people!

Gabby
GabbyPA 2012-05-18 08:31:34 -0500 Report

Well, I suppose if those foods are taxed at a higher rate, the price gap of cheap junk food and expensive healthy foods will be smaller. And will this "fat-tax" go to helping people who have limited means and have no choice but to eat the crap that is sold under the guise of food. (can you tell this burns my biscuits?)

I don't believe that the government needs to be involved in these things. If they didn't want to take care of everyone with healthcare and welfare and medicare...et. all. They wouldn't care what we put in our bodies. If they really want to help, they would stop funding monsters like Monsanto and other Franken-food manipulators. They would quit subsidizing the corn industry to make high fructose corn syrup so cheap that it ends up in everything from soda to Worcestershire sauce.

On the other hand, we do need to take responsibility for our actions and if we choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle, then we need to realize that the consequences of those choices are ours to pay. You want to bet that if we had to pay out of pocket for all of our health care needs, we would be choosing better for the long run.