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Calories could be taxed to reduce obesity rates

New research from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that hiking the price for food and taxing calories could be the cure for the nation’s obesity problem. According to the research, “raising the price of a calorie for home consumption by 10 percent might lower the percentage of body fat in youths about 8 or 9 percent.”



This is just one suggestion by experts to confront the growing problem of obesity. Many suggest one of the reasons individuals consume so many empty calories is because of the low price of junk food such as fast food and sugary drinks. The new price increase could reduce youth consumption.

Another concern is the high price of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which hurts consumer’s ability to switch to better choices. For instance, take a trip to McDonalds, for $3.00 you can get a cheese burger, drink and small fries but the same $3.00 won’t buy a salad.

Difference between men and women and consumption of calories


The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also analyzed how food prices affect different groups: males and females, whites and nonwhites. Interestingly, they found that “raising the prices of fast-food meals, for example, reduces the body fat of males more than of females.” But women’s body fat ratios were more affected when the price of fruits and vegetables were increased.

Historically, proposals have been made to increase the price of sugary, high fat content products but new research suggests there may be other ways to impact a larger number of people. The current choices include a fat tax, a sugar tax, a calorie tax and a general food tax. But after reviewing all the options experts suggest a calorie tax may be the best way to decrease obesity.

Downside of taxing calories


Although taxing calories may give us the biggest bang for the buck, nutritionists suggest that any tax should distinguish between good and bad calories. Adding too many taxes could increase the price of basic staples above a sustainable level for those who are poor.

Should government intervene in our consumption of calories?


A recent report issued by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine predicts that by 2030, 42 percent of Americans will be obese and 11 percent will be severely obese, or 100 pounds overweight.

Although no one disputes obesity is a serious problem, it seems most issues the government tries to solve often end up causing more harm than good or have unintentional consequences that cannot be foreseen by some “well-intentioned” politicians. Additionally, any time the government gets involved we often end up with interventionist policies which aren’t necessarily good for the country but are simply instituted after intense lobbying by well-heeled interest groups, which can lead to results that are counterproductive to the problems they are trying to solve.

What is the solution? It’s the solution for most of our problems. People need to take responsibility for their own choices. Consider your body a temple. It’s the only one you will have. Push back from the table and put the fork down and go for a walk.
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