Friday, October 7, 2011

Fat Tax: some food for thought

Just this week, Denmark introduced whats believed to be the world’s first fat food tax, applying a surcharge to foods with more than 2.3 percent saturated fats, in an effort to combat obesity and heart disease.  The new tax of 16 kroner ($2.90) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saturated fat in a product will be levied on foods like butter, milk, cheese, pizza, oils and meat.  Of course, this has stirred up much controversy here in the US.  Many people argue that the government should not have any influence in the food that they eat.  Others argue that it is too expensive to eat healthy foods.

About one-third of adults (33.8 percent) and approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents age 2—19 years in the United States are grossly overweight.  It is a known fact that obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.  These disease processes are usually very costly to treat. Unfortunately, this puts a huge strain on the medical community and ultimately trickles down to all US tax payers, as we pay into government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid (Soonercare here in Oklahoma), and the SNAP program (foodstamps).

In my opinion, as a taxpayer and a healthcare professional who makes healthy choices on a daily basis, I believe that there needs to be some type of reform as well as focus on prevention.  I also believe that the people who choose to eat these types of foods need to be educated regarding the risks and should take some ownership in their decision.  Healthy eating isn't necessarily more expensive either.  You can cut food costs by eating more meals at home, buying in bulk, and by making sure they feature some of the healthiest foods from your supermarket -- foods like whole grains, vegetables, and beans.  I believe that we will see much more controvery surrounding these issues in the future.  The focus should be on education and prevention.

What are your thoughts??  Would you pay more for foods that are higher in fat and sugar??