Tax Day…Fat Tax?

Tax Day is upon us.  For many, myself included, that means a last minute scramble to organize documents, paperwork and sift through online bank statements.  Oh, joy.

It did, however, get me thinking about a subject I’ve written about before… the concept of a ‘fat tax’.

ABC had an article on their site which stated:

Those who are overweight now have a new number to worry about: a “fat” tax. Adding a high tax on unhealthy food and drinks may help slow the rising rates of obesity, according to a study published  British Medical Journal. Previous studies suggest that the sharp tax increase on cigarettes in 2009 has contributed to the dramatic decrease in the number of smokers in the U.S. And it’s hoped a “fat” tax would work the same way…the goal of the tax is to curb sales of unhealthy food and decrease overconsumption, which may help to prevent disease.”

Followed by my favorite part:

The study also called for subsidizing the cost of healthy foods and vegetables to make them more affordable to greater numbers of people.”

Great idea, theoretically, but who would we be relying upon to determine which of the foods would be classified as unhealthy and subsequently taxed?   If, for example, we left it up to the USDA, would they stay true to their current theme and tax anything that is not low-fat, as they seem to be bent on selling low-fat and fat- free to the masses, still?  Would it be the case that we could then go to the grocery store and pay a great price for low-fat milk and fat-free bread but  have to pay a high tax on full fat  yogurt or whole grain bread that contained butter and was therefore, not fat free?

Oh, geez.

You see where I’m going with this.   I don’t see the execution of this idea as something all that feasible; and furthermore, even if people had to eat less of whichever foods were deemed unhealthy, they’d still likely be eating other unhealthy, packaged and processed items and perhaps just less of those that were then being taxed, but still consuming them in moderation nonetheless…

Just doesn’t seem like the answer.

How about rethinking all the time and cost and leg work that would go into setting up a fat tax and reallocating time and funding to create programs allowing everyone to get access to fresh, local foods.  Imagine if that were actually more affordable and easier than dining at McDonald’s?

Personally, I’m still a fan of the ‘just stop buying any and all junk-food (aka non-food) in the first place’.  Hit ’em where it hurts- in the wallet, and maximize for rearranging the budget to accommodate healthier foods, to the best of your ability.