A Tax To Benefit The Public

1642 words - 7 pages

For years, the United States government has been trying to find a way to lower the obesity in the country. However, the approach it is using, i.e. taxing unhealthy food, is not the most effective one. People are going to purchase whatever products they wish, whether the price is increased a few cents or not. Junk food options are already set at a more reasonable price than healthy foods, enticing people to buy these less expensive goods. Even though putting a tax on other products, such as tobacco, has served the intended purpose, food is a necessity humans must have for survival. Society is used to consuming foods they want, and will continue to do so. Putting a tax on unhealthy food will not necessarily lower the obesity rate because there are other factors that contribute to this problem. Moreover, taxing measures are usually intended for the collective benefit of society rather than the individual. They are usually perceived as another way the government uses to take money out of the citizens’ pockets. Ultimately, thinking that higher taxes on unhealthy foods will help curb down the obesity rate in the country would be similar to say that cost is the sole contributing factor to this public health problem. Imposing taxes will not help lower the consumption level because these foods will still have lower prices than healthier choices. Taxes do not impact the nutritional value of foods, and their only predictable effect is to help in generating additional revenue for the government.
A reason why increasing taxes on unhealthy food alone will not lower the obesity rate in the United States is the affordability and availability of junk food. Although the government keeps pushing for more healthy alternatives while taxing “fat” options and sugared drinks, the problem still exists. In “Ounces of Prevention,” Kelly D. Brownwell, Ph.D., and Thomas R. Frieden, Md., M.P.H illustrate the fast increasing price of foods such as fruits and vegetables since 1985 using a bar graph (1807). The graph also depicts how the price of carbonated drinks does not change much over the year. Food that is deemed “healthy” is expensive for some people, making it easier for them to choose fast food as a more affordable choice for most meals. More people can afford to buy those kinds of foods, especially lower-income families. The food industry provides increased access to these cheaper, unhealthy food options, and limited access to “healthy food” ones. By having these foods cheaper than “healthy food,” the government is doing practically the opposite of its intended plan. Brownwell and Frieden also argue, “Sales taxes are the most common form of food tax, but because they are levied as percentage of the retail price, they encourage the purchase of less-expensive brands or larger containers” (1807). I know from personal experience that I would calculate in my head how much money I would be saving if I bought the larger box of Cheezits instead of smaller packages. By...

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