The argument that the government should add tax to fast food items is debatable. The debate is an ongoing one which has sparked much controversy in the nutrition circles. The idea of added tax on certain food items is at the center two bigger ideas. First of all, strong scientific support links diet to life-threatening diseases, along with the anxiety of the “increasing prevalence of obesity that has fuelled calls for strategies to reduce intakes of dietary fat, sugar, and salt and overall food energy” (Taxing Food, para. 2). Secondly, the cost of food is an important factor in the types of food and the amount of food that individuals consume. Based on these ideas, the government needs to implement measures to keep the sales in the fast food industries at a minimal, so that people will maintain a healthy and long life. In order for the country to move forward in a healthy way, the government needs to strengthen its efforts to implement additional taxes on fast food in an effort to the health problems in the country.
Advocates for the added tax package agree that the tax on fast food will lessen the use of unhealthy foods, create revenue for relevant causes, and maximizes health benefits. On the other hand, there are those who are against the tax on health. These advocates argue on the premise government should not interfere in the lives of the citizens, or tell them what to do in terms of their eating habits. In fact, these advocates argue that the added tax on fast food hinders the citizen’s freedom to choose their diet. In addition, those against the tax argue that the tax affects the poorer groups in the society as the more affluent in the society can afford the food of their choice regardless of the taxes that the government may impose on fast food. More importantly, advocates for the implementation of added tax on fast food, point out that this tax can create positive changes in the types of food the individual consumes over the period of time. This change will eventually create a positive health system in the country, and in turn increase the revenues.
Walters (2012) notes the issue of imposing a "fat tax" is not a novel idea, but is in effect in many countries around the world. In addition, Walters (2012) points to a recent report from the British medical Journal website which shows that in order to create a lasting impact, the tax on unhealthy foods must be at a minimum of twenty percent. The report further adds that it is the only way to create a significant impact on the health of the consumers who face fat-related diseases. The question is, will this work? Many critics of this added tax package, point to the realistic theory that the taxes on alcohol and tobacco have done nothing to deter people from smoking or consuming alcohol. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that the tax will not reduce the level of danger that the consumption of fatty foods creates. Conversely, this argument may be quite logical, but while the tax would not cause an instant change in everyone, there is surely a chance that it will have a positive impact on many people. The changes will not happen overnight, but it certainly will happen in the future.
Kramer (2012) postulates “there is no disputing that obesity is a growing problem in the United States”, and reinforces the beliefs with statistics from the “Centers for Disease Control.” The statistics show that during 1980 and 2000, the rates for obesity in adults and children doubled (Kramer, 2012). Further medical research at the Center also indicates that obesity is one of the leading factors in Type 2 diabetes, and the treatment of this disease creates a financial strain on the economy. The researchers found “obesity-related direct health care costs were estimated to have increased to $75 billion” (Kramer, 2012). With this added expenditure in unnecessary health care, the economy is likely to decline.
One may argue that fast food chains are major financial industries that produce enough revenues for the country, and that any added tax on fast food will reduce the sales in the country. This idea may be financially logically, but the question of the importance of money over health comes to the forefront. Is it that it is acceptable to lead people to an early death with measures that are preventable? The ethical implications of allowing fast food entrepreneurs to continue to earn revenue at the cost of lives are appalling. It is the duty of the government to protect the rights of its citizen in any way that is ethically acceptable. This protection must take the form of implementing strategies that will help the people to recognize that while it is easier to consume fast food, the health risks are too great to allow this consumption to continue. One can understand that in this “fast-paced” world, many people do not have the time to prepare healthy foods, which are far more expensive than eating at a fast food restaurant. Nevertheless, it does not mean that in order to keep up with the changing time people are willing to commit suicide. The harsh reality is that fast food consumption is attempted suicide. Individuals know that the food they consume in a fast food restaurant is likely to increase the risks of damaging medical conditions, yet they knowingly consume these products. That consumption is undoubtedly attempted suicide, and the government should not sit idly by and allow the individuals in the country to continue to consume fast food.
Statistics shows that there is an increase in the costs of the health care relating obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, and even those who do not share these diseases, share the cost of this issue. In addition, doctors say that the fat creates many medical related problems such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes among others. If the tax on fast food comes into effect, then an increase in patients, who suffer from fat-related diseases, would reduce greatly. Powell & Chaloupka (2009) note “the government's intervention in the food and beverage markets motivate[s] the public health crisis of obesity combined with market failures that have contributed to the health crisis.” With this in mind, one can surely see that something must be done to eliminate this problem. In fact, with the introduction of the taxes, individuals are forced to make the most favorable decisions in regards to the consumption of food. The individual’s lack of sound judgment in what they consume leads to an increase in the weight of most people, and heart related problems. As a result, the government has to assume the medical responsibilities and spend money that they could use elsewhere.
In addition, the increase in taxes on fast food and the reduction in the price of healthy food are likely to present discouragement to buy fast foods. In fact, the consumers would be motivated to purchase, and even eat healthier foods that are non-taxable. It is only logical to conclude that with added taxes on fast food, such as fries, hamburgers, chips, or even ribs the consumption rate would decline, and the sale in healthy vegetables, and fruits would increase. The fact is that the majority of the populations include working class people who cannot afford any additional taxes on a regular basis. Therefore, the consumption of fast food would lessen. In addition, the increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables will impact on the agricultural sector, and in turn increase in the sales. Farming will emerge as an avenue for earning revenue for the country. In other instances, individuals are likely to lean towards growing their produce.
Needless to say, if there is no increase in the taxes on fast foods, people will continue to consume the product, and healthy eating will remain a dream. The truth is people continue to consume fast foods as it is cheaper to purchase these food items, than it is to eat healthily. Hence, an increase in health related issues. By imposing added taxes on fast foods, this would limit the number of people who support the fast food industry. One may argue that the added tax would deprive people of their freedom to choose what they want to eat. Of course, there comes a time when the citizens of the country need to stand by, and allow health officials to make the sensible decisions or choices. As such, the entire country can breathe easily knowing that it is more cost effective to earn money by discarding the unwanted factor of fast food from the nation’s diet. In other words, the imposition of added tax on fast food helps to reduce the level of consumption of fast food.
With the introduction of these taxes on fast foods, there would be a wide-ranging discussion on the negative effects that food has on people. In fact, the government would be doing the society a good service as they would be discouraging the population from eating unhealthy food if they put this idea forward. These consumers will automatically recognize the magnitude of their problem, and start caring more about the types of food they consume, and the impact these foods have on their bodies. The fact is that people have previous knowledge of the negative impacts that fast food has on people, and they knowingly consume these products. Individuals tend to lean towards fast food products that are cheaper, available, and suitable. One may argue that living in the city makes it difficult to lead a healthy life, but this is completely false.
Walters (2012) points out that the problem with fast food is the amount of fast food that individuals consume combined with the lack of physical exercise that is destructive to the individual. In addition, the added calories are stored as fat, and this is a major cause of obesity. Walters (2012) cites Baird report and notes “about 37 percent to 72 percent of the United States population supports a tax on sugary drinks, particularly when the health benefits of the tax are emphasized”. Other studies cited by Walters (2012) points to a prediction that “a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks would reduce obesity levels by 3.5 percent in the United States.” With these numerical facts in mind, there is no doubt that the government should continue with its efforts to add further tax to fast food products. On the other hand, the problem of unemployment comes to the forefront. The increase in tax on fast food items leads many advocates believe that there is a reduction in labor on the job market, as people will undoubtedly lose their jobs if there are no sales in these fast food industries. In essence, the fact that the country is seeking to alleviate one problem results in another problem that can lead to financial strains on the country as a whole.
In concluding, the issue of implementing added tax on fast food items serves to help put the medical problems relating to fast food consumption into perspective. The idea does not appeal to many individuals in the society as an increase in these taxes will see a reduction in the sales of the fast food giants. This decline in sales will lead to job reductions and eventually add a strain on the society. However, the value of a healthy lifestyle should take precedence over the value of money. Fast food consumption is one of the leading causes of diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and obesity in children and adults alike. The implementation of added taxes helps the individuals to refrain from consuming excess unhealthy foods into the body. While the arguments against imposing these taxes are great, the arguments for the imposition of the taxes are greater. From an ethical perspective, the government is responsible for the well-being of the nation and should be allowed to implement measures that will help to create a healthy society. Individuals now have the right to choose to live a healthy life, but this is not so. The reasons for the poor choices in food consumption are significant, but they are not important enough for individuals to be allowed to continue to make these poor choices in their eating habits. One may say that in order to keep up with the pace of the world of work, there is often no time for preparing healthy foods that are often expensive, but the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle should take precedence over the need to survive in the world of work. Therefore, the government should implement added taxes on fast food to force people to take their lives seriously. In turn, this measure will help to ease the financial strain of treating medical conditions relating to poor health choices can be eliminated, and the monies are spent on areas that are in dire need of financial reform.
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