Trimming the Fat of a Growing Problem

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Tammy Lin
ENGL 1302 051
Brittain 5/11/12
Trimming the Fat of a Growing Problem
Obesity is becoming a major problem to many Americans as well as many people around the world. Being the second cause of preventable death in the United States, obesity increases the risk of numerous adverse health problems including breast cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, stroke, and more. Obesity is defined as an excess proportion of total body fat, with a person being considered obese if his or her weight is twenty percent or more above normal body weight. A common way to measure obesity is by calculating the body mass index. An individual is considered overweight if his or her BMI is between twenty five and thirty, while a person is seen as obese if his or her BMI is over thirty. With that said, it has been estimated that sixty million Americans twenty years and older are obese, which makes up thirty percent of the adult population; meanwhile, nine million children and teenagers ages six to nineteen are overweight. The number of overweight and obese Americans has increased since 1960, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. In this paper I will review three main positions regarding the issue of ways to approach the multiplying rate of obesity. First, there are those who advocate for the implementation of fat taxes. With the administration of taxes on unhealthy foods and drinks, this group believes that it will significantly discourage the consumption of such foods and will, in turn, promote healthy and responsible eating. Second, there are those who remain persistent in maintaining the privacy of one’s decision making concerning food intake. With the expansion of diverse kinds of food production, this group considers an individual’s food preference as unique, exclusive, and personal. Third, there are those who believe that lowering the costs of healthy foods will encourage the purchase of nourishing and health-benefiting foods. They embrace the belief that most people would eat healthier if the food was more affordable.

The first position is the support of fat taxes. The people who stand in this position are those who are concerned with America’s public health issue today, especially the issues centering on obesity. Lisa Baertlin recently published an article on Reuters, an international news agency headquartered in the UK, entitled “Battle Lines Drawn over Soda, Junk Food Taxes” in response to the the wide-growing obesity epidemic today, with the proposition that fat taxes could help save individuals their health and money. She claims that taxes could help make up for the at least one hundred and forty seven billion dollars spent on treating diseases related to obesity and fund programs that battle for this issue. According to U.S. lawmakers, soda tax is one of the most probable sources that would most likely be used to tackle healthcare reform. In relativity to the taxing of cigarettes, these people believe that by taxing soda, it would also similarly reduce consumption and its revenue stream; by taxing more than ten percent for beverages, purchases would be cut down by eight to ten percent. According to a recent Thomson Reuters survey included within Baertlin’s article, “about fifty-eight percent of Americans are willing to bear a tax increase of one percent or more to support healthcare reform” (Baertlin 1), which proves that more than half of American citizens are willing to take a step forward for the promotion of a healthy nation. Writers like Baertlin sympathize with those who are in the center of the public health crisis today, specifically “overweight adolescents who are starting to suffer problems that used to plague middle-aged adults” (1). Baertlin herself is in favor of administering fat taxes and is certain that levies on fattening foods are an essential factor of any anti-obesity endeavor. The food industry plays a large part in the causes of obesity. Most food companies are...
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