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tax on fatty foods

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Should there be a Tax on Fatty Foods?
Introduction
“Arteries of an obese child are as thick and stiff as those of a healthy 45-year-old. This places kids at a premature risk for degenerative diseases that already place $190 billion strain on healthcare spending” (Kalaidis par. 1).

A glance at the picture above leads to the realization that taxes on fatty foods is an intelligent move. People should learn to differentiate the healthy individual from an obese one due to the misconceptions revolving around the two concepts. Obesity rates have more than doubled since the late 20th century. Despite the emphasis on healthy nutrition, the figures continue to be unacceptably high. There is a significant correlation between childhood obesity and adulthood obesity. Studies on childhood obesity indicate that children from low socioeconomic households have higher prevalence and incidence rates of obesity compared to children from households of higher income. It only means that unhealthy foods high in saturated fats are readily available to such households. This paper presents a debate aimed at discerning whether fatty foods should be taxed by discussing the associated pros and cons associated with this approach.
Pros for Introducing Tax on Fatty Foods
Reduce Obesity
According to the European Association for the Study of Obesity, EASO, (par. 2), obesity is the 5th cause of death in the world because it is a precedent condition for other fatal and debilitating health disorders.

Wait! tax on fatty foods paper is just an example!

The introduction of the tax on fatty foods has already been introduced in some countries to address the issue of obesity. Ideally, the aim is to increase food prices; hence, a population will not consume the fatty foods. The idea sounds appealing from a theoretical viewpoint, and especially if it is postulated that the current obese American population (around 30%) will escalate to almost 50% by 2030 (Kalaidis par. 1). Hence, nearly half of the American population will be obese and at risk of degenerative diseases. The tax law seems to be a logical action that will thwart actions by food industries to devise novel ways of gluing people to more convenient and unhealthy foods.
Encourage Focus on Healthier Foods
The rule of economics dictates that an increase in the price of a commodity results in decreased demand for that commodity and an increase in the demand of an alternative commodity. Hence, in this case, educators, advocacies, scientists, and scholars believe that levying tax on unhealthy foods helps to reduce caloric intake and encourage individuals to focus on healthier food options. This initiative is achievable if governments introduce the tax when measures to subsidize prices on healthier foods are in place and the population is educated on healthy food selection practices.
Reduce Health Care Costs
Healthcare related costs associated with obesity are as high as £5 billion annually, and they are a major reason for reducing government coffers. Countries like Hungary have a deficit of €370 million pounds. Obesity not only leads to high medical costs, but it reduces the quality of life as well. Taking all the aforementioned factors into account, obesity places a huge burden on a country’s economy. In the UK, for example, a total of £47 billion was pigged-out in the UK in 2012 (Cornelsen and Carreido 3). Then, how can the government just sit-by and watch as the preventable health issues continue to place such a huge burden on the country’s economy. Therefore, by placing the food tax, the government aims at alleviating the burden of high health costs on the normal population and instead incentivizes individuals to take up responsibility for their poor eating habits.
Reduced Purchase of Unhealthy Foods
Countries such as Finland, Denmark, Hungary, Mexico, and France indicate that health-related food and beverage taxes have resulted in reduced purchase of these food items. However, the long-term effect on consumption and obesity rates is yet to be determined. However, it is worth noting that imposition of food tax should be accompanied by other measures that regulate exposure to unhealthy foods, for example, developing advertising and marketing regulations of unhealthy foods. Apparently, the success of a tax in reducing the population’s purchase of unhealthy foods requires a well-designed plan. Levying a low tax base on relatively cheap food products has the insignificant impact compared with a gradually increased broader tax rate levied on unhealthy food products characterized by a high consumption rate (Cornelsen and Carreido 1).
Healthy Nation
Consumption of energy-dense foods (high in sugars and fats) beyond the recommended levels results in the occurrence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and cardiovascular diseases and especially coronary heart disease. Also, tooth decay in children is associated with intake of sugary foods and drinks. A look at the countries that have introduced these tax laws leads to the insight of ‘gradual introduction’. Countries like Denmark have already succeeded in imposing taxes on ice cream, soft drinks and chocolate. These previous moves were successful until a new fiscal measure of introducing the tax on foods with a high content of saturated fats was introduced (Cheney par. 8-9). The latter was not successful and this could have been attributed to unfavorable alternatives within the country. When Food producers and food retailers voluntarily work hand in hand with the government to fight obesity and associated non-communicable diseases, a better and healthier nation will be created.
Cons for Introducing Tax on Fatty Foods
Poor Alternatives
High food prices might result in poorer food choices as individuals seek cheaper food products, yet cheaper food products mean low nutritive quality. Governments, such as the Hungarian Parliament implemented this policy with the assumption that the risks would outweigh the benefits. Ideally, it seems feasible, but practically it is impossible because no Hungarian is willing to spend 41% of their income on food and associated taxes (Cheney par. 15).
Food Consumption not Affected by Price
According to a review by Mytton, Clarke, and Rayner (e2931), observations made on the relationship between food consumption and price indicated unexpected associations. The proportional change in food consumption after an increase in food price is not congruent with the proportional change in price. Mytton et al. (e2931) attribute this pattern to lack of an integrative approach when adopting such an approach.
Ineffectiveness
Researchers, activists, and scholars believe that the tax law is an ineffective measure as long as the consumer is illiterate on healthy nutrition, healthy eating habits, and healthy food choices. Food taxes are regressive in nature; thus, when food taxes result in high food prices, the low socioeconomic households are left with limited options and may devise unhealthy coping strategies if a counteractive measure is not implemented. Reference to the tax money collected from tobacco, only 5% since the year 1998 was allotted to anti-smoking programs. Such an occurrence results in the lack of trust in the government by its citizens. In addition, in light of hiked food prices for both healthy and unhealthy foods, people will not sit-by and wait for empty promises. Rather, they seek alternative and cheaper means to get similar commodities. Such was the case with Denmark when it imposed the tax on foods with high content of saturated fats. Citizens revolted against the tax and opted to waddle across the border for cheaper butter and ice cream from German and Sweden (Kurlander par. 9-10). The food tax law is not sustainable if it is not augmented with transparency, accountability, and an integrative approach.
Reduced Disposable Income
In the U.S., great support for the tax on sugary beverages was observed from opinion polls on the levy on fatty foods after the government promised its commitment towards subsidizing healthy foods. However, such support would be short-lived if the converse happened. An escalation of food prices results in reduced purchase of the hiked commodities, and a reduction of sales in food industries. The next move with such a trend would be cutting down production costs using measures such as retrenchment. An example is Denmark that led to a loss of 1,300 jobs when the fat tax was introduced in 2011. Ultimately, households lose income. In addition, the regressive nature of the food taxes leads to a reduced household income. As a result, households are not able to spend more on food, and if healthy foods are not subsidized, food taxes become ineffective.
Conclusion
Food taxes should be introduced in the United States as well. However, I do not literally mean food tax; this food tax can take the form of an excise duty on a certain ingredient such as sugar in foods. I support the idea of levying the tax on unhealthy food products as long as the money generated from the tax is used to provide subsidies on healthy foods. In addition, this alone cannot achieve intended results; hence, educational measures should be integrated to educate the public. However, this process requires a well-designed plan. The U.S. government can begin with sugary products that are totally unnecessary and upon accruing revenue from these taxes can progressively move on to other food products while nullifying the effects by making healthy foods readily available and affordable.

Works Cited
Cheney, Catherine. “Battling the Couch Potatoes: Hungary Introduces ‘Fat Tax.'” Spiegel Online International. 1 Sept. 2011. Web. 18 October 2015. <http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/battling-the-couch-potatoes-hungary-introduces-fat-tax-a-783862.html>.
Cornelsen, Laura, and Angela Carreido. Health-related Taxes on Food and Beverages. 20 May 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. <http://www.foodresearch.org.uk >.
EASO. Obesity Facts & Figures. 2013. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.
< http://easo.org/education-portal/obesity-facts-figures/ >
Kalaidis, Jen. “Should the U.S. adopt a fat tax?” The Week. 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. <http://theweek.com/articles/467316/should-adopt-fat-tax>.
Kurlander, Steven. Food Fight: Fat Taxes won’t Slim down American. 22 April 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-kurlander/fat-tax_b_2707662.html>.
Mytton, Oliver T., Dushy Clarke, and Mike Rayner. “Taxing unhealthy Food and Drinks to Improve Health.” BMJ, 344 (2012): e2931. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

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