Wednesday, April 25, 2012

US ‘fat tax’ could combat obesity, help economy

By Paula McFadden, Opinion Columnist

A so-called “fat tax” could be a solution to raise money for the United State’s debt crisis as well as slow the obesity epidemic.

This could mean that foods high in fat would have a tax to promote healthy eating.

Health promotion research group director Mike Rayner at the University of Oxford said last week in a BBC interview the United Kingdom should follow the example of Denmark and France, which have already implemented a tax on foods high in saturated fats.

In October 2011, Danish people began paying $1.29 per pound of fat for any foods with saturated fat content higher than 2 percent.

In May 2011, the United States’ national debt reached $14.29 trillion, forcing Congress to evaluate possible solutions to the debt crisis.

The compromise was to raise the debt ceiling to $15 trillion but was changed to $16 trillion in January 2012. The government also agreed to cut spending by $2.4 trillion in the next decade with an initial $900 billion cut this year.

Approximately 70 percent of adults and 36 percent of children are overweight or obese in the United States, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

A “fat tax” could be a way to combat this growing issue. Currently, there is no possibility of a bill being passed because many people do not want governmental controls on the economy. They say the problem will eventually solve itself.

The tax would also affect major food corporations, which have the power to use influence to prevent a bill from passing in the interest of business.

A negative aspect of this tax is it would increase the price of unhealthy food, but would not make healthy food cheaper. Critics question whom this would affect the most. The average person with a limited budget would struggle to pay for food.

Even if the United States does not create a “fat tax,” this is an example of a possible solution to prevent the obesity epidemic from getting even worse and keep the debt ceiling from caving in on the economy.