According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than two thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. And according to a recent article in Forbes, the annual economic medical costs of obesity are estimated to be over $150 billion. Norway and Denmark have already implemented a “fat tax” on unhealthy foods and Peru plans to follow suit with a junk food tax. France charges consumers an extra tax when they purchase sweetened beverages. And according to recent media coverage, the U.S. may eventually follow suit.
A study in the British Medical Journal found that fat taxes are only effective if they are significant – 20 percent or more. However, previous research suggests that smaller price increases are also effective. For example, one study purports that an 18 percent tax on pizza and soda would cause Americans to lose five pounds per year. Other studies suggest that a 10 percent tax would lead Americans to consume 10 percent fewer calories of the taxed product.
The fat tax idea stems from the success of the additional taxes added to the purchase of tobacco products and alcohol. When cigarette prices rose 50 percent in the late ‘90s, the number of smokers plummeted. Some economists and researchers believe that consumers who purchase unhealthy products don’t know or don’t care about the link between diet and disease. An additional tax on these products would give them food for thought.
However, how would lawmakers determine which consumables to tax? How much sugar or fat could a food or beverage contain before they label it unhealthy and tax it as such? Some high fat foods offer other benefits. Cheese, for example, may be high in fat but also contains significant amounts of protein, calcium and vitamins. Avocados and nuts are high in fat but are also good for your heart.
Perhaps the more logical approach is to educate consumers better about healthy foods and the benefits of a healthy diet. Government health agencies should make sure everyone understands that losing weight doesn’t mean giving up every food you love or starving yourself. They should advertise the health benefits of even small changes to diet –like the reduced chance of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
At Atlanta MD Weight Loss, we know that it is possible for anyone to lose weight and keep it off for life. We’ve seen it –and we’ve helped our patients make it happen. If you have been looking for a medically managed Atlanta weight loss program, give us a call to schedule your initial consultation.