Editorial: Obesity Taxes


Is it time for an obesity code?  


The obesity rate in the United States is growing faster than the average waistline of a Dunkin’ Doughnuts Patron.  Many of the nanny state politicians would make you think that we should consider taxing the food that is unhealthy or adding a tax for each inch of your waistline.  Liberals or progressives as they like to be known today feel that you need to be protected from your own buying or preferences.  The question is whether this will make a difference in the obesity rate of the United States or the world as a whole.  

Today is the time of the global warming hoax.  Many feel that carbon dioxide produced by manufacturing and the power industry is the cause of the temperature changes over the last 100 years.  Maybe we should look at exercise as the cause of global warming.  Exercise burns carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  The process of burning energy produces energy, oxygen, and water.  The thought that exercise is the cause of global warming is almost as ridiculous as humans being the only or

significant cause of the same.  Instead of being an alarmist that is looking for a quick fix, let find a solution that actually works.  


Many of these same folks will advocate for a “weight loss tax” or obesity tax.  This plan is short-sighted so, I would encourage you to look at more long-term solutions.  You need to look further than the prohibition of alcohol from the 1920s to find justification.  Prohibition resulted in a black market for alcohol.  Do we really want our children selling Twinkies or Doritos in school or in dark alleys?  If we go down this path, sugar-sweetened beverages or fat-laden treats will have a street value like many of the opiates that the Drug Enforcement Agency is fighting today.  

Do we place a tax on sugar?  Yes and Maybe.  Taxes of 10% will reduce consumption of the item taxes but who chooses the items to be taxed?  Do we tax salt, sugar, fat, or a combination of all three?  Do we tax saturated fat?  Do we tax butter?  Remember, butter was vilified in the past be has since been found to be not the cause of heart disease.  I would suggest that taxes on a substance may be short-sighted.  Instead, I would suggest a subsidy.  

Obesity: Belly

Should we tax obesity?  Do we have taxpayers weigh-in or report for a waist circumference?  These questions create several problems.  Who do the measurements?  Who pays for it?  You can curb bad behavior by requiring regular measurements, but obviously, this would require 

Why would a subsidy be more successful than a tax?  A tax is a penalty for what is considered a bad or less than desirable behavior.  If you remember the example of prohibition, you will quickly understand why prohibition fails.  A subsidy is a tax credit that encourages good behavior.  If you understand psychology, you will quickly figure out why subsidies are more successful than taxes.  The problem is that subsidies do not deliver revenue like taxes so, politicians will be unlikely to support them.  

The bottom line:  Obviously, junk food taxes are not the best option.   Who would choose what junk food we should tax?  Do we enroll all obese in fat camps and keep them there until they lose weight?  I suggest that we look at positive reinforcement such as subsidies.  

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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