Junk Foods and Soft Drinks: Obesity in America
Go to a public area with a lot of people and observe people’s body shape. Most likely there is more than two people that are either overweight or obese. Even children are overweight or obese too. Obesity in America has gotten so bad that “for the first time in the history of our nation, some medical experts warn that this younger generation may be on track to have a shorter life span than their parents as a direct result of the obesity epidemic. Nearly a third of the children in this country are overweight and some experts believe up to one third of children will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lifetime” (“One Nation Overweight”). With more and more Americans choosing an unhealthy lifestyle everyday, something must be attempted to slow down or possibly even stop this epidemic. To encourage healthy eating, a tax increase should be imposed on soft drinks and junk food.
Although a junk food and soda tax seems like a good idea, it can be considered unfair. Dr. Ayala Laufer Cahana writes that the “consumption of soda is highest in lower socioeconomic homes and minority groups.” That means that the lower income families would be affected greatly. However, that necessarily is not a bad thing. Lower income families can benefit greatly from this by residing to water. It is free whenever you ask for a small cup or go out to eat and it does not contain any high fructose corn syrup, one of the main factors that leads to weight gain. The money lower income families would spend on soda can now be used to a greater cause, such as spending it towards bills or buying a basketball so that their children can have something to do and be healthy at the same time. Switching from soda to water can help lower income families save a lot of money and help slow down this epidemic of obesity.
The price of something generally affects whether or not one makes a purchase. When buying something at the same price for over a long period of time, one may get used to it. However, if the price were to increase by a significant amount, most likely the consumer will end up not buying it. As a result, higher prices end up with lower consumption.
When commenting about whether or not a junk food tax could work, Cahana writes “if a tax is high enough, sales of sugary beverages should decrease and there are indications that soda sales are very price sensitive.” When discussing about a similar tax increase dealing with tobacco, Cahana writes “economic research shows that every 10 percent increase in the real price of cigarettes reduces overall cigarette consumption by approximately three to five percent… Every single state that has significantly raised its cigarette tax has seen smoking go down sharply.” If an increase of 10 percent were to apply with junk foods and soda, similar results could hopefully be seen. Although a small percentage would most likely be the outcome, at least something would be attempted to slow down this epidemic. Something is better than nothing.
What is the point of eating healthy when healthy foods are expensive and junk food is much cheaper? Yes healthy foods are more expensive than junk foods, but when that hospital bill comes in the mail after a heart attack, the price of eating healthy outweighs the hospital bill greatly. By eating healthy, it can prevent and control many health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. It also allows one to progress to the state of being healthy, which can help one live longer, be happier with their lives, have more energy to do things and be more confident with their self image. To add on, less doctor visits, meaning more money to use. Eating healthy also sets a positive example for young children. Lori Rice writes “the American Heart Association rates being a positive role model and practicing healthy habits as the No. 1 way to help children develop these habits and continue them later in life.” With more role models of healthy eating comes more healthy lives, and more healthy lives comes to more enjoyable lives. More enjoyable lives leads on to less depression, and less depression leads to a happier nation.
The money made from higher taxes on junk foods and soft drinks can be used to fund for health care. Lauren Neergaard writes “conservative estimates suggest obesity-related problems account for at least 9 percent of the nation’s yearly health spending, or $150 billion a year.” Neergaard also adds on that “over a third of U.S. adults are obese. By 2030, 42 percent
will be.” With obesity rates on the rise, this epidemic needs to be slowed down severely, or else the United States will become one fat nation.
In conclusion, junk foods and soft drinks should not be consumed daily. To help Americans eat healthier, a tax increase on junk foods and soft drinks should be imposed. Doing this can help persuade consumers to stay away and eat healthier. Being obese or overweight can have several difficulties in life, which is something not worth the risk for. What America needs more of is healthy people as role models for the future generation. After all, the next generation of kids will eventually decide what America becomes.
Cahana, Ayala Laufer. “Could A Tax On Junk Food Drive Healthier Choices?”
herbalwater.typepad.com. Herbal Water, Inc. Jun. 8 2009. Web. Nov. 26 2012. Neergaard, Lauren. “Obesity In America: 42% Estimated To Be Obese By 2030, New Data Shows”
huffingtonpost.com. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. May 7 2012. Web. Nov. 26 2012 “One Nation Overweight: Fighting Obesity in America, Facts, Information, Factoids.” CNBC.com.
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Rice, Lori. “Benefits of Eating Healthy Foods?” livestrong.com. Demand Media, Inc. Mar. 23 2010.
Web. Nov. 26 2012.