Sixty years ago, before the invention of frozen TV dinners, the staples of the American diet were whole, simple foods — meat, potatoes, butter, milk, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Most meals were made from scratch; picture fresh cream skimmed off the top of the bulk tank and eggs picked fresh from the henhouse. Today, the standard American diet is a lot more on the go with more processed foods, and ready-to-eat meals you can take on the road, with cell phone in hand. In the U.S., obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and other ailments, as chocolate, candy, chips and soda have become American favorites. It’s no wonder more than 30 states have considered various forms of a bad food tax. And, I want to know: do you support a tax on bad food?
A recent survey conducted by CBS News says most of us don't. According to the survey, "Most Americans want to lose weight, but they do not favor a tax on junk food and do not believe that such a tax would help lower obesity. The poll results reveal that the vast majority of Americans believe that obesity can be controlled. They do not feel, however, that the government should be imposing a tax on the foods most likely to make them obese; 62% say they oppose such a tax, while 38% say it's a good idea."
New York Times columnist Mark Bittman thinks differently. Bittman writes,"The food industry's mission is not public health but profit, so they’ll continue to sell the health-damaging food that’s most profitable, until the market or another force skews things otherwise. That 'other force' should be the federal government, fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good and establishing a bold national fix. Rather than subsidizing the production of unhealthful foods, we should turn the tables and tax things like soda, French fries, doughnuts and hyperprocessed snacks. The resulting income should be earmarked for a program that encourages a sound diet for Americans by making healthy food more affordable and widely available."
Sound a bit like Big Brother to you? Telling us what we can and can't eat? That may be so, and even President Obama has acknowledged that while he would consider such a tax, he understands why people might not like it.
Another article, this one by CBS News,examines the economic benefits of this bad food tax. An excerpt from the article reads, “According to Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, a national penny/oz. tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would generate some $13 billion a year in tax revenues. A study by Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health estimated that, in New York State alone, a penny-tax/oz. of sugar-sweetened beverages would save $3 billion in health care costs over 10 years.”
So, what’s your take on the bad food tax? Would you vote yes or no? Is this Big Brother exerting control or a solution to our growing debt and health crises? Weigh in and share your thoughts with us!