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Will Taxing Soda And Pizza Solve The Obesity Epidemic?

SS Member Image By drodriguez 04.12.10
Will Taxing Soda And Pizza Solve The Obesity Epidemic?
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In the last few years, as the obesity epidemic heightens, researchers and scientists have been brainstorming on ways to help the nation slim down and get healthy.  One new idea coming from Kiyah Duffey and a team of reserachers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is to start taxing junk food items like soda and pizza.  The team believes that a tax on these types of high in fat and sugar items will make people think twice before purchasing them.

A recent report from Reuters discusses the research published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine about taxing soda and pizza.  According to the article the U.S. currently spends $147 billion a year in health costs due to obesity in Americans.  This hefty expense doesn ’t come as much of a surprise when you look at the current statistic that 2 out of every 3 Americans are either overweight or obese.  In the past, both the CDC and American Heart Association are now publicly supporting a tax on soft drinks.

But will a tax on these foods and drinks really make people stop buying them?  Duffey’s team believes it will.  After studying a group of over 5,000 people varying in age from 18 to 30 over a 20-year period, the researchers found that during this time when there was a 10 percent increase in pizza and soda costs, they saw a decrease in overall calorie consumption.  Individuals taking part in the study consumed 7 percent less calories from soda and 12 less from pizza when prices were up.  This led the team to believe that if there was something more substantial, like an 18 percent tax on these foods then we would see people’s daily calorie intake go down by about 56 calories.  That would add up to a weight loss of about 5 pounds per person per year. 

Duffey’s team goes on to further explain why a tax on pizza and soda can really benefit us as a country.  Duffey says, "While such policies will not solve  the obesity epidemic in its entirety and may face considerable opposition from food manufacturers and sellers, they could prove an important strategy to address overconsumption, help reduce energy intake and potentially aid in weight loss and reduced rates in diabetes among U.S. adults."

What do you think of the idea of taxing soda and pizza as a way to decrease the obesity rate in the U.S.?

Would a tax on these items make you think twice about purchasing them for you or your family?

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  • juicysteff By juicysteff

    I honestly feel that the reason for the Tax is just another way to get more money Out of us, as if sales tax wasn't enough! It will be an effective way of collecting money Since most americans are overweight And will not give up their unhealthy choices. I personally am a bit of a health nut and I try to encourage My overweight friends to make healthy choices And simply enjoy all of the different and delicious Fruits and vegetables out there but I often hear them say That they just can't afford to eat healthy and that fast food is just so cheap That they always give in. My argument to them is That u can't put a price on health and even if u choose to so will ur doctor when he sends u a huge bill because u have A long list of health problems!

  • BlondieKAA By BlondieKAA

    I think that taxing pizza and soda is such a shallow "solution" to obesity. The obesity problem does go a whole lot deeper than just this. I think that people who like to eat pizza and soda, whether in moderation or in excessive amounts, will still eat it. I love pizza (in moderation), and I don't think a tax would keep me from buying it. As a couple other people already pointed out, I don't think that penalties will keep people from buying unhealthy food. Instead, incentive programs would be much more motivating.

  • RocketsGirl By RocketsGirl

    I think we should only allow food stamps/gov't subsidized food coupons to be used to buy healthy foods, NOT soda and items that are wholly devoid of nutrients, like soda. Ironically, when people use food stamps to buy soda, they DON'T pay sales tax b/c purchases using food stamps aren't charged sales tax.

  • purpleflower By purpleflower

    Oh, if only it was that easy!! As many have already pointed out, taxing tobacco and liquor overall, has not been effective. Not having read the journal article, I'm not sure if the authors have already touched on the importance of intrinsic, or internal, motivation. Until someone is motivated from within to change their behavior, imposing external means, in this case a punishment of a tax, will not introduce lasting behavioral change. The only party that benefits from such an approach is the government (assuming State gov) because it will not result in reducing the obesity epidemic.

  • Lusadi By Lusadi

    I think a tax on those items, particularly a federal tax, is an additional infringement of our rights. It will hurt business and cost jobs without helping anything. It is just an additional grab for power and control by the government.

  • jlindseyc By jlindseyc

    people need incentives for purchasing healthy foods rather than penality for unhealthy choices.

  • Turtleks By Turtleks

    I think it is just another way to get money from people who work to hard for it already. They tax tobacco and alcohol to the roof and people don't give them up. What makes them think that this will? Next are they going to tax resturaunt food at 2 cents and ounce too? What about all the other junk food. Will the portion police be next? Soon the taxes will be so much that we cant aford to buy anything.

  • basilandcatnip By basilandcatnip

    People are going to eat what they are going to eat. Look at tobaco and alcohol. I like the idea of Jamie Olivers Community Kitchen where people can go to take free classes to learn about food and to cook, it also builds comminuty. Make new friends... maybe people would get out more, rather then eat more. I wish there were a library for exercise equipment or a place to get good quality supportive sneakers and workout gear for low income people.

  • msfriendly By msfriendly

    This is not going to work. It doesn't work for tabaco, does it?

  • girl17 By girl17

    You would have to put a huge tax on this to keep people from purchasing & consuming. Plus, the issue I have is that it's not necessarily junk food that's causing people to gain weight. There is a lot more to it than just that. We need to exercise more and make smart decisions. There are plenty of skinny people that consume pizza and soda regularly. Why don't we make fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh dairy, and fresh whole grains less expensive!

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