Fat Tax

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ABSTRACT

Obesity is an epidemic that is sweeping the United States at a rapid speed, and it kills. Obesity is responsible for killing more people than anything else, except for smoking. It affects people of all ages, races, income levels, and geographic locations. Obesity brings with it a myriad of problems that the individuals who suffer from it face, as well as social problems that are felt by people in all walks of life. There are astronomical costs that are attributed to it, being paid by society in the form of medical fees, unemployment benefits, and other miscellaneous costs. This report proposes that these costs and problems need to be addressed, and one avenue through which they can be is a junk food tax. This report proposes that there be a federal tax placed on junk food purchases, similar to the taxes placed on gasoline and tobacco products. This tax would dissuade people from purchasing unhealthy food items. At the same time it would help the nation offset some of the financial costs that obesity has generated. The proposition is not a fix-all, but it is a good start.

Taxation of Junk Food,
A Proposition to Battle the Obesity Epidemic in America

INTRODUCTION

Obesity is a condition that can be found in nearly every social class, geographic location, and age group in our society today. Every year there are more people who fit this profile; more people who are obese. While many view this condition as merely a cosmetic one, the truth is that there are serious consequences to being overweight. Some of these consequences include: the health risks such as diabetes and heart disease, early death because of those conditions, economic impacts due to lower productivity, astronomical health care costs, and numerous social problems that arise due to the lethargy and early mortality of obese parents and the inactivity of overweight children.

These issues are significant, and need to be addressed in order to solve the problem. First, the causes of obesity must be understood, so that adequate solutions can be generated. Then solutions need to be created and put into effect such that the causes of the epidemic will be addressed at a minimal social cost. The information in this report shows that a large portion of those who suffer from obesity can attribute a large portion of their weight to junk food. This food is high in calories and low in nutritional value. This report also shows that many of these people choose to consume these products due to its convenience and relative low cost. I propose that in order to address this cause, and decrease consumption of junk food due to convenience and low cost, a federal tax should be levied against all foods that fit the profile of a junk food. I propose that this action would decrease economy purchases of less nutritious foods, and encourage consumers to consume more healthy diet options based on economic feasibility.

COLLECTED DATA

The Obesity Epidemic

The issue of obesity is one that is complex and widespread. In order to understand the scope and implications of this condition, one must first understand what it is, and who it affects. Not everyone who is overweight is obese. Scott Ingram describes the difference between obesity and overweight as overweight being anyone who weighs more than the someone in the normal range for how old and tall they are, while in order for a person to be labeled obese, they must have enough body fat to put them 20 percent higher or more than their ideal weight (Ingram, 2005, p. 23). In other words, if a person’s ideal weight for their height and age is 140 pounds, and they weigh 150 pounds, they are overweight; but if they weigh over 168 pounds they are obese. This difference is important, as it indicates exactly how much overweight obese people are. They are all more than 20 percent over their target weight, which is significant enough to cause the problems that are being discussed in this report....
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