A Tax On Unhealthy Foods?

Source: New York Times

Source: New York Times

The New York Times‘ Mark Bittman proposes a tax on junk food. What do you think – is he right?

What will it take to get Americans to change our eating habits? The need is indisputable, since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet. (Yes, it’s SAD.)

Though experts increasingly recommend a diet high in plants and low in animal products and processed foods, ours is quite the opposite, and there’s little disagreement that changing it could improve our health and save tens of millions of lives.

And — not inconsequential during the current struggle over deficits and spending — a sane diet could save tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs.

Yet the food industry appears incapable of marketing healthier foods. And whether its leaders are confused or just stalling doesn’t matter, because the fixes are not really their problem. Their 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…

Simply put: taxes would reduce consumption of unhealthful foods and generate billions of dollars annually. That money could be used to subsidize the purchase of staple foods like seasonal greens, vegetables, whole grains, dried legumes and fruit…

[continues in the New York Times]

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  • jasonpaulhayes

    I think this guy is a Moron, public information campaigns do work and can easily provide real information to inspire people to eat healthier. Creating a tax for the consumer is to “Blame the Victim”. Corporations that produce unhealthy foods should definitely be taxed to discourage its production and at the same time broadcast a public information campaign.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonpaulhayes jasonpaulhayes

    I think this guy is a Moron, public information campaigns do work and can easily provide real information to inspire people to eat healthier. Creating a tax for the consumer is to “Blame the Victim”. Corporations that produce unhealthy foods should definitely be taxed to discourage its production and at the same time broadcast a public information campaign.

  • mole_face

    They know that most Americans aren’t going to change shit about their lifestyle. This is just a  vice tax designed to raise revenue, just like the price hike on cigarettes. 

  • fuzzgun

    They know that most Americans aren’t going to change shit about their lifestyle. This is just a  vice tax designed to raise revenue, just like the price hike on cigarettes. 

  • Comprep666

    i’m always against a sin tax…this is just another method the government uses to tell me how they think i should live my life…that is not the job of the government…and honestly if you can’t eat healthy without being reminded too by high taxes, then maybe you deserve the ill effects of this junk stuff. it’s not like there are many people in this country that aren’t under the understanding that this stuff is unhealthy, they just don’t care…imagine a black market of junk food, or tax free fast food on native land and pueblos……..

  • Comprep666

    i’m always against a sin tax…this is just another method the government uses to tell me how they think i should live my life…that is not the job of the government…and honestly if you can’t eat healthy without being reminded too by high taxes, then maybe you deserve the ill effects of this junk stuff. it’s not like there are many people in this country that aren’t under the understanding that this stuff is unhealthy, they just don’t care…imagine a black market of junk food, or tax free fast food on native land and pueblos……..

  • Hadrian999

    I am in favor of a 300% tax on any soft drinks that don’t involve actual cane sugar

  • Hadrian999

    I am in favor of a 300% tax on any soft drinks that don’t involve actual cane sugar

  • Hadrian999

    I am in favor of a 300% tax on any soft drinks that don’t involve actual cane sugar

  • Cpwnu

    We do not need anyone to live any longer than they already do, we are overpopulated and require a continuous death toll so the healthy have the resources to live and reproduce.  The Government is either trying to hurry the end of our existance or are all complete morons (I vote the latter).  Does anyone comprehend that maybe our poor health decisions are actually natural selection.  Quit playing God you could never even define its shoes let alone wear them.

  • Cpwnu

    We do not need anyone to live any longer than they already do, we are overpopulated and require a continuous death toll so the healthy have the resources to live and reproduce.  The Government is either trying to hurry the end of our existance or are all complete morons (I vote the latter).  Does anyone comprehend that maybe our poor health decisions are actually natural selection.  Quit playing God you could never even define its shoes let alone wear them.

  • SF2K01

    This is always 4 steps down the line from where it should be. They’re also usually implemented foolishly like taxing Coke (like the NY mayor wanted) but not Diet Coke, as if Diet Coke is a healthy alternative.

    Besides, not everyone who drinks Coke (just for example) is automatically unhealthy, it’s the individuals inability to control themselves and eat right that leads to these kinds of problems. So tax people who are unhealthy and leave the rest of us alone. Even better, create some kind of consequence for people leading an unhealthy lifestyle, bad choices should mean them having to face the music, not the rest of us being troubled on their behalf.

  • Chiefshaver

    Does this come w/ a reduction of the cost of premium “healthy” foods?  Probably not. That would help also! 

  • Anonymous

    This is always 4 steps down the line from where it should be. They’re also usually implemented foolishly like taxing Coke (like the NY mayor wanted) but not Diet Coke, as if Diet Coke is a healthy alternative.

    Besides, not everyone who drinks Coke (just for example) is automatically unhealthy, it’s the individuals inability to control themselves and eat right that leads to these kinds of problems. So tax people who are unhealthy and leave the rest of us alone. Even better, create some kind of consequence for people leading an unhealthy lifestyle, bad choices should mean them having to face the music, not the rest of us being troubled on their behalf.

  • Chiefshaver

    Does this come w/ a reduction of the cost of premium “healthy” foods?  Probably not. That would help also! 

  • Chiefshaver

    Does this come w/ a reduction of the cost of premium “healthy” foods?  Probably not. That would help also! 

  • Chiefshaver

    Does this come w/ a reduction of the cost of premium “healthy” foods?  Probably not. That would help also! 

  • hexenbulle

    zuh§lter verreckt
     

  • hexenbulle

    zuh§lter verreckt
     

  • hexenbulle

    zuh§lter verreckt
     

  • JoiquimCouteau

    “That “other force” should be the federal government, fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good and establishing a bold national fix”

    This guy should be shot in the back of the head

  • Anonymous

    “That “other force” should be the federal government, fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good and establishing a bold national fix”

    This guy should be shot in the back of the head

  • VelaCreations.com

    but wait, what is healthy or non-healthy?

    for some, whole wheat/grains can lead to weight gain, dental issues, and diabetes.  Should grains get taxed?

    for some, high saturated fats/meat diets improve health. Should fats/meat avoid the tax?

    So, what authority is going to tell us all to eat the same thing, when dietary requirements vary across the population?

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      i think its pretty safe to say most processed foods are unhealthy….

      • VelaCreations.com

        like soybeans?

  • VelaCreations.com

    but wait, what is healthy or non-healthy?

    for some, whole wheat/grains can lead to weight gain, dental issues, and diabetes.  Should grains get taxed?

    for some, high saturated fats/meat diets improve health. Should fats/meat avoid the tax?

    So, what authority is going to tell us all to eat the same thing, when dietary requirements vary across the population?

  • Rogermillercomedy

    Taxing junk foods will essentially be a poor person tax, forcing everyone to pay more for food rather than making healthier options more affordable. The problem is a gross missappropriation of farm subisides. Tax dollars should go towards local farms producing real products, not massive agro-industries producing empty carbs in the form of HFCS and processed soy, until then it will always be cheaper to push junk food on the market. How to get around the massive influence of the food industry in Washington is another issue altogether (Publicly funded elections anyone?)

  • Rogermillercomedy

    Taxing junk foods will essentially be a poor person tax, forcing everyone to pay more for food rather than making healthier options more affordable. The problem is a gross missappropriation of farm subisides. Tax dollars should go towards local farms producing real products, not massive agro-industries producing empty carbs in the form of HFCS and processed soy, until then it will always be cheaper to push junk food on the market. How to get around the massive influence of the food industry in Washington is another issue altogether (Publicly funded elections anyone?)

  • wizard

    tax the government. Those that want the lime light of being a politician must pay to be there.

  • wizard

    tax the government. Those that want the lime light of being a politician must pay to be there.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    i think its pretty safe to say most processed foods are unhealthy….

  • VelaCreations.com

    like soybeans?

  • http://twitter.com/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    There should at least be a one cent tax on a soda.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    There should at least be a one cent tax on a soda.