There has been a lot of discussion over the last few months about curbing the ever rising obesity rate in this country by taxing food/drink items such as soda which contain sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Supporters of this plan feel that high taxes work for cigarettes, pricing them out of the range where more and more people just aren’t interested in buying them anymore. But opponents say that this is more government nanny-state meddling and that a person should be permitted to do whatever it is that they wish to their body and unlike tobacco and alcohol, there are no second-hand issues that the government should feel it can become involved in protecting the rest of the public from enduring.
Last week The New York Times presented us with an article which asked if ‘fat taxes’ work and offered an interesting glimpse into what I believe to be the real reason for the government to be interested: money and lots of it. According to the article, “The Joint Committee on Taxation calculated that a 3-cent tax on each 12-ounce sugared soda would raise $51.6 billion over a decade.”
A recent Huffington Post article entitled Denny’s Culinary Crime Spree which claims that Denny’s is basically on the verge of killing its own customers, something that the article states it probably doesn’t really want to do, because of the ungodly amount of sodium used in each of its dishes (e.g. the article states, “Denny’s (bigger) double cheeseburger with fries has 4,130 mg of sodium. That’s 275 percent of the recommended daily limit.”) Ouch.
The LA Times talks about the government wondering if forcing fast food restaurants to post calorie counts next to their menu items will help people make smarter choices about their food. The article gets straight to it and exposes the fact that everyone realizes that this is another meaningless requirement which helps nearly no one:
We’re under no illusions that posting calorie counts on menus is the miracle-diet solution to the country’s weight problem. Nobody goes to Taco Bell expecting to get health food; some consumers will pay no more attention to the calorie information than they do to the nutritional labels on packaged foods. Yet those labels do make a difference for many people, and although savvy consumers can already find health statistics on common fast-food menu items by checking websites that track them, the group that is least likely to access this kind of information — people from low-income and minority communities — is also the group that’s most at risk of obesity. The calorie-count mandate would not only give people information that’s vital to protecting their health, it would encourage restaurants to offer low-cal alternatives.
The Washington Post talks more of the same regarding fighting obesity with taxes but even the author states that even she is a bit skeptical of the entire thing and feels that it oversteps the boundary that the government should set between ensuring its people are safe and outright controlling every last little thing they do.
So what do you think about all of this? Do you believe a fat tax will help to bolster the economic disaster that obese people have brought upon us? Do you think that these taxes, as low as some may be, will be a deterrent? Do you think that this is just more government meddling that must be stopped? Whatever you think about the proposed fat taxes, go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you all have to say.