Why the Government Should Enforce Taxes on Junk Food
Obesity has become a crucial problem in the world with the rate of obesity standing at 30% (Murray) and America being held accountable for 13% of that, closely preceded by China and India combined to account for another 15% (Friedman). Being overweight or obese is now the fifth leading cause in global deaths with 44% of the deaths of overweight people caused by diabetes. The obesity epidemic has been growing faster than ever and this is alarming news to most people because of the consequences it carries. The cost of healthcare for people considered morbidly obese (with a BMI >40) is reported to be 81% higher than healthy adults (Cawley). A diet which consists of mostly carbohydrates is what is known to be the leading cause of obesity after genetics and most those carbs are found in junk food. Chips, candy bars, soft drinks, pop, as well as fast food etc. are all considered to be junk food and most of this junk food is significantly lower priced than the healthier choices. A study published by the British Medical Journal showed that choosing healthy choices over unhealthy choices would cost the average person about $550 per year. That difference in price may certainly bother people whose food budgets are low and the price difference may seem attractive at first, until they calculate the eventual healthcare costs etc. So why not level the playing field? Would people still choose junk food over healthier choices if the difference in prices was smaller? If they knew that they would be taxed more if they chose the unhealthier version? I don’t think so. The government should enforce a higher tax on junk food because not only will it decrease obesity rates, but it won’t make unhealthy food so unappealing to buy and will make healthy food more affordable in comparison as well as save lives by decreasing diseases caused by eating junk food.
Imagine you walk into a gas station to buy some snacks for your road trip. You walk into the chips isle and see all the Lays, Ruffles, Doritos, Cheetos, and in the very bottom there is a row of veggie chips. There is automatically a thought in your head that those are “the expensive kind” and you look past them hardly noticing their existence. Now imagine the same scenario but when you’re looking at those chips you’re thinking “Hmm, which could I get so I don’t need to pay the steep taxes on all the junk chips, maybe those veggie ones at the bottom, wow! And only $1.20 more than the other chips! Definitely going with those.”
Attraction is a strong pull. Prices, to some people, are the most attractive thing at the store so when they see something priced higher than its competitor then they will probably get the cheaper one unless the more expensive one has interesting features to offer. Prices were the deciding factor when it came to choosing between fried potato chips or baked veggie chips. Sure, there may be people who simply prefer the junk food because of the taste or whatever other reason but most cases, prices were was the line between junk and healthy food. Taxing unhealthy junk food however, would make that choice so much simpler for you when choosing healthy versus unhealthy. You would automatically think “Okay I will have to pay extra for this junk food, do I really want it?” and that alone would redirect your attention to the healthier food you’d otherwise ignore because of the price difference. If taxes were set on junk food, it’s not that people would be more inclined to buying healthy food, it’s that people would finally pay more attention to that healthy food, thus resulting in purchasing the item more often than before they even noticed it was there.
As I previously mentioned, obesity is a huge epidemic in the US currently. There are now more obese people than ever before and that is a huge problem. One reason is because the number one cause for obesity is genetics so even if you weren’t obese from your genetics but overeating, your children still could be obese, why would you ever want to risk your child being at risk for obesity and diabetes? Other reasons include healthcare expenses. Recent studied have shown that obesity now costs Americans more than does smoking, and healthcare for morbidly obese people is 81% more than regular healthcare. Being obese, you are putting your body in all kind of different dangers and facing all kinds of different diseases like heart disease etc. often leading to one’s departure from their family into a new world of the dead.
Who wouldn’t love to save lives? Helping enforce taxes on junk food, you’d be doing exactly that. Increasing taxes on junk food would decrease the amount of junk food purchased and eaten, thus in turn saving more lives by preventing diseases caused by being overweight and eating non-nutritious junk food. There are so many life-threatening diseases out there that were linked to diabetes and being overweight because of junk food, why would you want to put your family through your death like that?
Some may argue that Tobacco is taxed yet still doesn’t stop people from smoking therefore taxing junk food wouldn’t work either but I disagree. Tax on tobacco and tax of junk food are two different things. There is no alternative to those cigarettes until recently with the e-cig and vapes but with junk food, you will have an alternative. Either eat unhealthy and be taxed for it or eat clean and don’t be versus with tobacco, they don’t really have an option. It’s either “I smoke and feel half decent” or “I don’t smoke and don’t feel half decent.”, there is no healthier alternative that may satisfy them, like there is with junk food.
In conclusion, taxing junk food will not only even out the attention amongst junk food and its healthy alternatives but also decrease the rate of obesity significantly in the US and maybe other countries will follow. Do you know anyone in your friends or family who is obese? Do you wish them well? Enforce taxes on junk food.