New taxes aimed at Obesity; Good or Bad

By Latest Reply 2009-03-10 12:31:44 -0500
Started 2008-12-17 07:24:06 -0600

I know that some states need to create taxes to help supply the funds, but? Saying that they are going to tax foods that aid in the obesity of the state is ridiculous and appauling. Food is expensive enough. I think that if people want to buy food that they can afford, especially when not facing any problems, is an attack on all people; because everyone will pay this particular tax. I do drink one diet coke every so often, but from what I understand that diet sodas will not be taxed, the others' will. Who gets to decide that? Some people actually have withdrawal problems, where the coke might help, and if I am nautious, that is the first thing I am going to use,is a couple sips of regular coke. There are many reasons not to recoup this money through this type of tax. Yes, I understand that obesity (esp. in children) is a real problem, and we/they need help, but is taxing the answer. I have a daughter just starting her career and a new apartment with lots of bills. I do not want her to have to pay out any more money than she already has to. Maybe I am wrong, but it is almost like pointing a finger directly at overweight people, and what about the people looking at them/us, blaming us for the taxes.

35 replies

John Crowley
John Crowley 2008-12-19 10:18:35 -0600 Report

So, I may be able to shed a little different light on this discussion. As some of you know, I'm just finishing up my MBA. I've had a couple of economics and finance classes recently. From what I've learned, I would have to say I think taxing unhealthy food is not a bad idea.

Instead of seeing the tax as a punishment for overweight people, look at it as a way that government can encourage healthier eating. The FDA seems unwilling to outlaw the really horrible stuff that sells in our supermarkets every day. So a legislator can make an immediate impact on the demand for the worst foods by raising the price through a tax. It's simple economics that if the item costs more, demand will go down.

And if demand for those items goes down, food manufacturers will have incentives to make less of those foods and make more of the things that are selling.

Now, Sparrow does make an excellent point that it is difficult to draw the line. However, if the tax were really just targeting the worst of the worst, I think we could probably all agree on what falls into that category.

In general, I am definitely in favor of less taxes and less government intervention. But using taxes as a way to lower demand for terrible (or even harmful) products is one of the few tax issues I agree with.

Just my two cents.

2catty 2008-12-19 11:01:44 -0600 Report

I don't see people giving their junk food up if that's what they really like. They will pay a little extra on tax. Which is just taking away from them financially. It just is going to make the government more money, and they know. Junk food junkies are called junkies for a reason. Look at cigarettes in the state I live in they increased tax 60 cents on a pack. It changed nothing. They just are a little more broke and can not afford other things they really need. I think the same will happen with the junk food tax hike.

highlandcitygirl 2008-12-19 13:47:35 -0600 Report

i am tired of big brother ruining my life, or is that running! what may appear to be a good thing, is not always so! soon only certain people will be able to bear children much less arms. welcome to the "new age".

2009-01-31 07:55:20 -0600 Report

I don't know where you live, but in Nj now, the going price of cigarettes has been $7.18 a pack. Just heard on the news yesterday, that there will soon be another .61 cents tax on a pack.

Wow, I can buy over 4 gallons of gas right now for that.

But gas is back on the rise,too.

As far as our local flea markets and grocery stores. Most prices have just about doubled since last year.

Buying in bulk, I did with my large family, when the kids was still home.
I would buy in bulk whatever was on sale one month or week, and on and on, alternating so that I could have a reasonably good supply of everything.

But, it was a lot cheaper then.

Coupons and store issued price chopper cards are useful; but still have to watch for things they may have pushed the price up on, so they can sell them on sale (literally, no savings there) but all in all they are good.

Also reward cards for things like shoes, underware, hardware, books, just about all the stores give you points toward rewards.

I often get 20.00 gift certificates, and very good special offers from showing them the card to own points.

These are good ways we can still save money on personal needs and necessities.

Pauline B
Pauline B 2008-12-20 01:15:59 -0600 Report

I do not like the government deciding what is good for me, whether it is how my child should be put to sleep (face up), placed in a car, what I should eat, etc. What the government should do is EDUCATE us all, from the time we are born, honestly and truthfully, about life, cause-and-effect, etc. so we can decide for ourselves what is good for us. And the laws we do have, whether they be city ordinances, or state of federal laws, should be enforces equally across the ethnic and income lines.

2008-12-20 05:57:22 -0600 Report

I love some of these posts, and I think I agree most with, is that the country is taking control of our lives, like other countries once did.We no longer have the chance to decide things on our own, we either get taxed or ticketed. If I was still of child bearing age, no one should have the right to tell me I can not have a daughter, only a son (maybe one daughter? but not two) and if I do, face the horrible consequences. I understand tickets for cell phone users while driving, but now tickets if you get caught smoking here.
I do not keep junk food in the house, but that is my decision as is yours. Its' not just taxing everything we do or eat; it is about our rights. What is happening to this supposedly free country that everyone wants to come to?

2008-12-22 05:04:31 -0600 Report

If this guy wants to help fight obesity; why has he since decided to also tax gym and other exercise memberships. That kind of is like a double standard dont you think, but in all fairness he now has a list of eighty some new taxes.

2catty 2008-12-22 13:19:09 -0600 Report

Just another excuse to put money in uncle Sam's pocket. If they cared soooo much they wouldn't put it on the market. FDA wouldn't let them. And if they cared so much why make beer and cigarettes legal and make marijuana illegal. To easy to grow and they can't tax. Bad for you is bad for you. My opinion anyways.

2008-12-25 06:05:31 -0600 Report

you are right and as far as I have heard lately; more medical research has said marijuana can help people, esp. with pain relate issues.

Delores2760 2008-12-25 13:22:59 -0600 Report

Big brother is slowly moving in on us & we need to not be so passive about things like this.To me this is way over the line.I do agree it's about money , not about having a more healthy population.If the government really cared about any of us, they would educate us as someone else stated earlier.Also there is the fact that smoking and drinking are so much worse , so why do they still let it be sold? Why?So they can make MONEY out of it.I am sick of BIG brother and of the apathy of so many people in this country.I am 48 yrs old , and in my younger days if we didn't like something we stood up and tried to change it.Now days all anyone does is complain or blog about it. If we're not careful , we will lose more than the right to choose what we eat.

tabby9146 2009-03-10 12:31:44 -0500 Report

I don't think it is a bad idea…but they need to 'exclude' diabetics. I know that some insulins make you gain weight, and once you have diabetes, for so many, it is so hard to lose weight. I don't know.

highlandcitygirl 2008-12-18 16:55:40 -0600 Report

i am going to be taxed to death! what happen to those people that dumped the tea in the harbor. the point of the story is: more taxes, fat or thin you just can't win!

2008-12-19 06:08:18 -0600 Report

I understand what all of you are saying. New Jersey is called the Garden State, where there is no longer room to garden. It is now the tourist state for the outlet centers, which have been continually closing for the last 3 years. They are charging a nickle a grocery bag, needless to say, I have bought my own reusable a couple years ago. I made a couple, I even made my own coffee filters. I make whatever I can to reduce spending, but now material is so expensive, it is definitely cheaper to buy than make most things. Of course I am lucky to have an abundance collected sewing materials, and supplies. I always did my own gardening, produce for a year, storage; freezing, canning and so on. And since we started living in apartments, there is no space for storage. And if you want to rent a decent, livable, apartment, an efficiency goes for around 1100.00 a month and a month and a half security, plus a full months rent for dog. The produce is so expensive, whether at the flea market, grocery store or farmers' market. The food pantries are empty, like New York; and many other major cities. Overpopulation is really a problem, and of course, job security anywhere is out the window. Medical expenses rise as do health care is everywhere. And what about the fact that because my husband works, I have to pay taxes on my really, really meeger SSD.? I realize that I have been ill most of my life and have not had a big income throughout the years, but why tax what little I did make. Whatever, sorry, it is just all getting out of hand.. Although I am glad about all your advice, but it seems like all of us middle class families pay more to survive than anyone else, with less benefits allowed or state assistance. It just does not seem right.

JaredLahti 2008-12-17 22:38:25 -0600 Report

I think it is a bad idea. Taxing junk food is not the answer. What they should be doing is working on reducing the price of healthy food so that people can afford to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. We need to focus on education and awareness to combat the onslaught of obesity.

Avera 2008-12-17 23:32:19 -0600 Report

I totally agree with Jared. People buy what they can afford and it is lots cheaper to buy fried potato chips rather than the healthier baked ones. The healthier the food is, the more expensive it is. Have you checked the price on "special" foods for people with diabetes?

Debe Pendice
Debe Pendice 2008-12-18 06:48:12 -0600 Report

The price of healthy or SF foods are herendous! I am on a stict budget. I have so much set aside for food for the month. If I bought everything health consciense wise, I would probably have food for about 25 days in a month. What am I going to eat the last 5-6 days? That probably would be only junk food, because of the price. I guarentee I too want to eat all heathy foods. I just can't aford it all month long. I live on so much from month to month…Debe

2008-12-18 14:52:06 -0600 Report

Seems like the case for everyone; who can afford healthier foods all the time; and it is only getting worse, and what about the taxes? Why don't they take something higher that isn't a necessity, like video games,etc.

kdroberts 2008-12-18 15:06:43 -0600 Report

I really don't understand all the "healthy food is expensive" posts. Anything pre-packaged or specifically aimed at diabetics is usually going to be reasonably expensive but if you make your own food, especially if you can buy in bulk, it's not expensive at all. This is especially true if you live anywhere near farms of any kind. It may mean you have to learn how to cook or relearn how to shop or look for other sources for foods but there are always plenty of things in season that can be picked up for pennies a lb and that can be turned into tasty and healthy food. is a good place to start.

GabbyPA 2008-12-18 15:26:25 -0600 Report

I am right there with KD. I posted a discussion on "you can afford to eat healthy"

There is some good information in there. Farmer's markets are tax free a lot of times and if you shop healthy first, you cart is full. We just have to prepare our own meals, but let's be honest. That is the best thing for us anyway.

As for taxing junk food...let them. I just won't buy it...oh, I forgot. I already don't.

It takes some doing and time, but we can do for ourselves and if they want to consider junk food a luxury item, then I have to agree with them. On my tight budget, it is the soda, the crackers and things like that, that are not on my list. I still get all my veggies and all my fruits. Those things are paramount to me. And they are some of the least expensive things on my list.

The food manufacturer's are not going to let it happen will see. There is too much money to be made selling food that kills us. So let's just spite them all and eat healthy and out live all of them. LOL

GabbyPA 2008-12-18 15:37:45 -0600 Report

The website KD posted is great and has how to shop your local markets, but also how to cook with what you buy. It is a great site. There are a lot of recipes to try, and though you will have to adapt them for your diabetes (we are all used to that anyway)There are a lot of Fresh ideas there.

kdroberts 2008-12-18 16:00:17 -0600 Report

This was just posted on another board. This is what I'm talking about.

"Hi, everyone! I'm posting this here and maybe also in the Eats section. I wanted to let people in the Atlanta, GA area know about two great places to buy poultry, meat, fish, veggies. 1. The Buford Highway Farmer's Market: 5660 Buford Highway in Doraville. Telephone: 770-455-0770.

And 2. The Cobb County International Farmer's Market: 2350 Spring Rd. SE Smyrna, GA 30080. Telephone: 678-309-0007.

I've shopped at both and prefer the one in Doraville (bigger, better prices, not so crowded).

You will save a LOT of money going to these, let me tell you! For instance: The last time I went to the location in Doraville, I spent about $35 and was able to purchase: Four packages of chicken breasts, each package had eight pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, two packages of stew beef chunks, two packages of chicken thighs (each of these packs had ten to twelve pieces!), 2 pounds of sweet potatoes at thirty cents a pound (!), six onions that all together were $1, some apples, bananas, oranges"

Debe Pendice
Debe Pendice 2008-12-18 16:20:53 -0600 Report

Kdroberts do you know of any places around Pittsburgh,PA area or Youngstown,OH area where I live close to? What do I search for to look something like this up…Debe

Debe Pendice
Debe Pendice 2008-12-19 15:10:24 -0600 Report

Thank you so much. I have so far only looked up the first link you have offered and got tremendous results. I am really looking forward to seeing the next couple site. Thank you so much again. I would of never foung this on my own…Debe

JaredLahti 2008-12-25 08:02:44 -0600 Report

Do you know of any in the San Antonio, Tx area? I used that sustainable website and found like 2 or 3 but I am working when all of those are open.

Lanore 2008-12-17 08:43:42 -0600 Report

I think it is a bad idea, but i only drink diet soda when i drink it. I mean really…there are people out there that are not obese and they will get taxed. I think it is just an other way to taxed us to death. I live in N.Y…it is hurting the "middle" class people to say the least. If they even consider us that any more. Lanore ;-)

kdroberts 2008-12-17 08:38:51 -0600 Report

Could be worse, have a look at the Japanese policy.

GabbyPA 2008-12-18 15:21:19 -0600 Report

What the Japaneese really should do it eliminate the "western" foods from their diets. No!No!No! should be to the McDonalds and Burger Kings over there.

The measuring the waist is interesting and it will be interesting to see how it helps/hurts the people. I just really think they are barking up the wrong tree.

Sparrow - 16557
Sparrow - 16557 2008-12-17 08:19:13 -0600 Report

I think where the real problem will come in is, how will they determine what is "junkfood". Mashed potatos aren't considered junk food, but overdue it and they add to obesity. In fact, almost ANY food can contribute to the obesity problem. So, what IS "junkfood"?