Tax on junk food may help reduce obesity epidemic

Jackie Sedley - Staff Writer, Photo courtesy of Google Images

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As the rate of overweight and obese U.S. citizens plateaus at a whopping 68.5 percent, the urgency of the issue has galvanized the government to direct additional focus onto the problem. Over the past three years, Mexico, Norway, Samoa, Hungary and Australia have implemented “junk food taxes” or “fat taxes” as solutions to their individual obesity problems. Placing a tax on unhealthy foods within the United States will undoubtedly lower the overall consumption of these snacks. The high obesity rates apparent within the nation will lower as well, and a decline in obesity-induced health concerns will lead to lower medical costs.

The high obesity rates within the nation can directly correlate to the high rates of poverty. Oftentimes, shoppers will purchase calorie-rich foods not because they taste better than healthier options, but because they are generally far cheaper than natural products. However, if the cost of a bag of potato chips suddenly exceeds the cost of a healthier alternative, many customers will indirectly start developing better eating habits.

“We need to understand that being overweight and obese is not just something at an individual aesthetic level, it has serious health consequences,” said Professor Alan Lopez to ABC News.

According to reports on, 33 percent of adults whose yearly income is less than $15,000 can be classified as obese. Raising the prices of foods with low nutritional benefits may promote low-income families to develop healthier lifestyles. As healthier food is purchased, the obesity rate in the United States of America will decrease, ultimately leading to a healthier society. Also, according to, a national tax on sweetened drinks could create a $13 billion income and cut consumption of these drinks by 24 percent. In the upcoming decade, 400,000 cases of diabetes can also be avoided if a 20 percent increase in the price of sugar-ridden drinks is implemented. The increase in price would result in $30 billion saved on the medical treatments of problems accompanying obesity.

Industrially-produced foods often contain immense amounts of sugar, salt and other various chemicals. Ingestion of these chemicals raises the risks for obesity, heart disease, stroke, musculoskeletal diseases, diabetes and cancer. These health hazards are highly dangerous to one’s health, and excess weight can hinder one’s ability to handle these diseases efficiently. The New York Times recently stated that obesity numbers in American children have tripled in the past 30 years. The estimated medical costs of obesity treatment in 2008 was $147 billion, and according to, the general medical bills for individual obese patients was on average $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. However, if weight can be controlled and maintained without the need of dietary restrictions or other weight loss solutions, health costs will become far more affordable for families across the nation.

Of the seven billion people in the world, roughly three billion are overweight or obese. America is accountable for 78.6 million of the world’s obese population. Although the United States is becoming more aware of this situation’s severity, little is being done to actually solve the issue at hand. But the attempt to battle obesity through junk food taxes has clearly already started to lower the world obesity rate. If this solution receives the necessary attention, the nation’s ongoing struggle with obesity may be conquered.


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