Steadfast FinancesShould We Adopt a National Sin Tax on Junk Food to Reduce Obesity Epidemic?

Should We Adopt a National Sin Tax on Junk Food to Reduce Obesity Epidemic?

Filed in Consumer Education , Politics , Taxes 67 comments

Sin Tax - Sin Taxes - are you pouring on the pounds, don't drink yourself fat - soda tax for sugary drinks - New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygeine.I’m not a fan of paying higher taxes. Nor am I a fan of people going without health insurance.

As we’ve heard over and over on the 6 o’clock news and political debates, our current health care system cannot continue along its present course and represents a serious threat to the health of the U.S. economy.

Therefore, I’m reluctant to admit that substantial changes will be required (both monetary and personal responsibility) if we plan on altering our future.

Unfortunately, we are living in an era where we are so concerned about offending someone that we’re willing to turn a blind eye to the obvious, and withhold what must be said until we’re among the safety net of our supporters or behind the security of a computer screen.

The Case For Higher Taxes to Pay Health Care Costs

At present, the likelihood that higher taxes will become a necessary evil to pay for government sponsored health care is gaining ground.

Personally, it really doesn’t bother me all that much.  If called upon in the future, I’m willing to pay a slightly higher tax rate so uninsured Americans can have access to life saving drugs or little Danny falls off his bike and breaks his arm.

No problem, happy do it, just play me a patriotic song and tell me I’m doing my part for the good ol’ Red, White & Blue.  Heck, I’ll might even enjoy it.

As long as the people getting it actually deserve it!

Then comes a news report which says the Obesity Epidemic in America is still going strong.

Obesity in America – NBC News.

Obesity in America – Diabetes Related Illnesses a Threat to Medicare.

Should Junk Food Have a Sin Tax / Fat Tax?

When we, as a nation, are discussing future budget crises partly because we can’t push ourselves away from the table… I think we might need to reassess the problem.

Most of the things that are considered “bad for you” in the U.S. come with a regulatory agency warning label, and possibly a sin tax.  Goods like cigarettes, alcohol, and even gasoline, have an additional sin tax attached to them because they’re (arguably) bad for us in their own unique ways.  Not to mention, they’re a cash cow for the tax man.

So why should junk food be any different? It’s well known that sugar stuffed goodies or chocolate covered yumyums are contributing to the obesity epidemic. Why should food that possesses little nutritional value but contributes to the cancer/diabetes/heart disease epidemic be immune from taxation?

Better yet, why should the people who consume these foods (if you can call them that) eat significantly more of them compared to the population mean, have a body mass index greater than 30%, and still get access to the same government sponsored health care that everyone else is supposed to get when they retire? Moreover, be eligible for disability insurance solely because of their weight and medical conditions directly related to their eating habits.

Why should junk food mega-consumers be allowed to contribute as much in taxes as much as the next person, but indulge in a lifestyle that will undoubtedly cause them to take more out of the Medicare system than they actually contributed during their working years. Critics will (correctly) say that these individuals will die off sooner than normal resulting in lower overall health care costs. However, considering that medicine is constantly extending the human lifespan and the cost of medical care/drugs will always increase, it’s an arguable debate at best.

This situation hardly seems fair to the majority of the population, and because of that, it’s a viable question and should be pushed to the forefront. In a fair and just society (which we’re supposed to live in), those who spend more in the end should be expected to pay more upfront. Right?

A National Sin Tax of 2% for Junk Food?

What if, just for arguments sake, a 2% fat tax was placed on anything bearing the label “junk food”?

When an item would be purchased at the grocery store, a mandatory 2% sin tax was added to the item just like everyday sales tax. It will be used to fund Medicare deficits, educating the general public against an unhealthy diet, as well as providing temporary financial assistance to anyone who can’t afford medical care.

After all, this sin tax will target the majority of people who are, or likely will be, posing a greater risk to the sustainability of government sponsored health care (e.g. Medicare).

Then again, is a 2% sin tax enough? How about a 5%? An extra quarter for a bag of Doritos or Snicker’s bar doesn’t seem that bad. Does it?

How About a Visual Debate?

If my words haven’t convinced you, perhaps a quick visualization of the problem can sway you.

Should this “disabled” person qualify for the same government sponsored health care…


… as this person? cancer-patient-third-stage-hodgkins-disease-during-chemotherapy-fuck-cancer

Why should a person who overindulges like this…

… get the same benefits as a veteran who lost a limb fighting for their country (notice the absent right leg)?


It is a powderkeg of a debate just waiting to go off, but because of political correctness, no one wants to bring it up.

Considering our present situation (severe recession, financial crisis, record numbers of uninsured, etc), it’s a debate worth having regardless of the hurt feelings and political fallout.

Then again, perhaps complaining about our problems while doing nothing to solve them is just the new way American way.

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Photo Credits by order of use: colros, hoodiefanatic, colros, richardmasoner.

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Posted by CJ   @   2 July 2009 67 comments
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Jul 6, 2009
4:52 pm

This one isn’t totally cut and dry.

From an economic standpoint, taxing the heck out of something does decrease consumption (no pun intended), which has obvious societal benefits, but here are the problems:

1) We’re going to rely on government to dictate what’s good and what’s bad? It’s been tried with gun control (it’s still OK to buy a 50 cal that can pierce an armored vehicle), minimum sentencing (life imprisonment for stealing a bicycle while OJ walked?) and basically any other law they stick they test out.
2) It’s clearly government meddling in personal/free market affairs. more of what we’re already seeing now.
3) Whatever additional taxes are collected, they will surely be squandered as our government is adept at doing. I posted a while back on what happened to the tobacco settlement funds. It’s a travesty. It gets no attention because the media’s obsessed with bailouts, michael jackson and octomom.

Perhaps the solution is simply a higher portion of preventable illness related diseases are borne by the recipient, but of course, determining what’s “preventable” is a whole new bureaucratic exercise since many of the obese have “a genetic disposition” to their “condition”. Plus, it would be discriminating, right? And we don’t do that in America.

Great post of course, nice contraversial topic. good job with it.

Jul 8, 2009
12:00 pm
#2 Matt :

@ Darwin,

Thanks for your kind words about the post. I can’t agree with you more since it reminds me of one of my all time favorite quotes: the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the bureaucracy.

Strangely enough, it really felt like a Devil’s Advocate type of post considering I’m a fiscal conservative, but more and more these days, I’m beginning to like the idea of targeted taxation to reduce collateral damage.

Interestingly enough, I wouldn’t dream of making the sin tax a large one. The primary goal would not be to reduce consumption of junk food, but to grow a secondary health care fund to reduce the stress on Medicare. That’s why I suggested it be placed at 2% of the sales price, so the tax on a $4 bag of my beloved Doritos would only be $0.08. Hate to do it, but to me, it seems like a viable solution to finance the epidemic.

Jul 9, 2009
11:55 am
#3 Phillip :

Imagine if your steering wheel had a giant spike in lieu of an air bag. I am confident the driver of that vehicle would be much more careful due to the fact they would be suffer the consequences of poor choices. With that being said, lets encourage personal responsibility and quit providing health care. It’s not an entitlement or right, and just think of all the tax dollars that will be able to be reallocated in uncle sam’s eyes. Imagine a world were people pay for their choices. Eat crap= Die sooner. Eat smart= live longer. Carlin said it best, the kid who eats too many marbles doesn’t live to reproduce.

Jul 9, 2009
1:16 pm
#4 Matt :

I would support your idea 100% if it were possible. Not because you incorporated a George Carlin (one of the best freethinkers ever) quote, but because it’s perfectly logical to suggest people have an obligation to themselves and to society that they shouldn’t become a dead weight.

However, the problem with applying Carlin’s quote is that evolution no longer applies to our species. The kid who doesn’t listen to his parents say don’t eat the marbles gets a second chance. Five thousand years ago, the kid who didn’t listen to his parents say don’t go near scary animals with sharp teeth didn’t have this luxury, and was subsequently removed from the gene pool.

These days, we don’t seem to have a problem with the eating crap part, but when the deleterious effects show up, we do everything possible to prevent the dieing sooner part.

I hate using puns, but it’s quite literally a case of having your cake and eating it too.

Jul 16, 2009
2:14 pm
#5 SJ :

I’m sure you’ve seen yesterday’s when Jon Stewart interviews the director of health

But I LOVE this line that Jon Stewart gave…

“I’m rich… so can I tell people to stop smoking on the subway… ‘You are costing me money!!’ ”

“Personal Responsibility” pshhh…

Jul 17, 2009
11:41 pm
#6 Matt :

@ SJ

I didn’t see it that night, but just checked it out on Comedy Central tonight. Hilarious!

Sounds like something I would probably do… if I were rich of course.

Jul 18, 2009
12:37 am
#7 Matt :

@ Lisa

Well said. As I mentioned above, I wouldn’t want the sin tax to be so high that it’s a serious deterrent (I like my Doritos like everyone else), but keep it at a level where the collected funds can pay for the angioplasty and diabetes drugs for those that will likely need it in the future.

Since it appears that our goal is keeping everyone alive as long as possible, the money to pay for the drugs has to come from somewhere. Annoying fact of life, but it has to be done.

You seem like you’re very passionate about this subject, so you might want to checkout the Bill Moyer videos I posted several days ago. Wendall Potter, a former Cigna VP, discusses the business of health care and gives an insiders view rarely seen on Main Street.

Highly relevant since Cigna posted a $200 Million profit for first quarter 2009.

Jul 18, 2009
1:18 pm
#8 SJ :

“It is a basic human right and everyone needs access to quality care.”

Why is it a basic human right? I personally think it secondary or even tertiary…

The problem is that at the same time we argue it’s a basic human right to be able to poison ourselves eating sub-optimally, taking high risk actions that may kill us, etc.

Plus I’m so lost by health care haha.

How about people submit to a free physical when filling taxes =)

Jul 18, 2009
1:27 pm

There is a saying that I have heard. “It might be good, but is it right?”

Does the government have the Constitutional right to tax us for providing healthcare and to tax us for the foods we decide to eat. I believe if you do any research you will find that the majority of what the Federal government does do is contrary to the Constitution. It may sound good, but is it right?

I believe, as did our founding fathers, that the role of the Federal government is to be limited in scope. The Federal (and States too) have evolved into big caregivers. Taking care of as many as possibly by taking from the producers in society. This is a great way to get re-elected.

While I believe someone who is actually down on their luck for a short period should get some assistance it should not be given when their life choices have put them into that position or for extended periods of time. Great countries tend to fall when the majority can vote to take away the earnings of a minority.

What happens when that affluent minority gets smaller and smaller because of increased demands by the majority. I believe it was Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister during the same time as Ronald Reagan was president, once said “Socialism is great until you run out of people to take money from.” Think about it.

Jul 22, 2009
6:19 pm
#10 danielle :

i’m not sure a sugar tax is going to resolve the issue. i think education and awareness is where the answer lies. sounds cheesey but if people raised their children on the right foods, and incorporated exercise in their daily routines, then children would grow up healthier.

i stand in line at the grocery store with my lettuce and milk, and see parents piling twinkies and soda into their shopping carts while their kids pull candy bars and captain crunch off the shelves. it’s a cultural issue more than a financial one.

we can put a 50% tax on snacks and people would still eat them. and healthcare costs would continue to rise. it would shift some of the cost from the sweets-eaters to the cost of healthcare but it won’t fix the problem.

good food for thought though. no pun intended :)

Jul 22, 2009
6:45 pm
#11 Matt :

@ Danielle,

Thanks for commenting. I’ve seen the same thing, and that’s one of several observations that inspired me to write the article.

A big problem that I’ve witnessed is that the individuals in which you describe, are also likely to suggest they aren’t doing any harm to themselves or their offspring. As we all know, lessons learned (good and bad) are generally passed from generation to generation, so when that kid grows up, he/she will likely be (over)indulging in the same poor eating habits.

But as I’ve said in the comments section a few times, the goal would not be to tax junk food so severely that no one eats it, but to use those funds to pay for healthcare since those who consume mass quantities of junk food also have a high probability of needing prolonged medical treatments (hypertension, diabetes, depression) to extend their life expectancy.

Seems like we want to indulge in bad behaviors, but rely on modern chemistry to solve the problem. Only problem is, modern chemistry isn’t cheap!

Thanks again for commenting! Very good food for thought. :)

Aug 12, 2009
1:31 am
#12 eddie :

We should not tax junk food. We should stop subsidizing corn. By subsidizing corn the prices of junk food are artifically low. Go through and high fructose corn syrup is in everthing – even bread.

Aug 12, 2009
10:13 am
#13 Matt :

@ Eddie,

I like it. HFCS seems to be used in nearly every “manufactured” food product these days.

However, those Congress persons from the Midwest would probably derail any possibility of that ever happening. Toss in Monsanto’s influence (e.g. lobbying dollars) and you’re got some pretty powerful opponents.

Aug 12, 2009
11:55 am
#14 MLR :

Even if HFCS becomes more expensive, it is more convenient. It is a liquid, so it is easier to transport and blend.

The problem lies in the OVERALL increase in the consumption of sweets, not just the increase in HFCS.

Aug 12, 2009
5:40 pm
#15 SJ :

Hrm… when I attempt to visit I get a warning that this site may harm my computer… might wanna get that looked at lol… I just turned off plugins/cookies/etc… maybe I should have that set up anyways =)

The HFCS comment reminds me of this… it’s not JUST in sweets tho…:

(The guy is anti-sugar sorta but yea)! Why I look for foods that say FAT =)

Aug 12, 2009
5:50 pm
#16 Matt :

That’s troubling. I haven’t received any such warning, but curious if anyone else has.


I wonder if that’s just a sneaky trick someone could use if they don’t like the message an article conveys.

Sep 2, 2009
12:20 am
#17 Mike :

There is so much wrong with this entire idea that I don’t know where to start, so lets cut to the chase.

I am a 40 year old Junk food Junkie, who smokes, drinks, and yes horror of horror, I drive about 1000 miles a week while using a non-hands free cell phone.

Now hear is the reality…

I am not obease, I have NEVER been involved in an at fauly accident, and outside of some very minor dental work I have not cost my health care provider one dime because I don’t get sick, and when I do I drink a lot of Juice, take massive doses of vitamin “C” and just flush and sweat it out of my system.

Did I mention I have 2 kids…8 and 6 who have my eating habits, and guess what, they don’t get sick and are definitly not obease.

So what gives? Well for one thing every chance we get these kids are outside being active, and much of the time, I am out there with them, being active.

So here is my thoughts…..

Instead of taxing those who are “supposed” to be causing the sytem money, lets tax the FAT and Lazy. You know who you are, the ones who flash there Healthy choice meal they just bought, but are to freakin Lazy to walk 10 steps to replace there shoping cart in the proper place so that it rams into my vehicle.

Funny thing is, my kids you know the junk food junkies, and the other kids, many of whom I also know to be junkfood junkies that are out at the playground every day, they aint fat, so why the “epidemic”, isn’t it obvious, LETS GO FOR THE FAT AND LAZY TAX!!!!!

Oct 29, 2009
2:10 am

Great topic. That is a no brainer. But I tell ya, why there is so much bashing on overweight people perplexes me.

I know a lot of big folks who are happy to be overweight. They don’t care what others think, and they eat what they want and enjoy life.

They can easily say what about a tax on non obese people!


Oct 31, 2009
11:22 pm
#19 Matt SF :

@ Financial Samurai

I really think the anger generated against the obese is due to the recession. Since the obese fit the stereotypical model of over consumption, they’ve become an easy target.

Here’s an example: let’s say you have a 40 year old, 300+ pound neighbor living down the street. He has late onset adult diabetes (Type II), and drinks a 24 pack of soda every week. Then, one day, you notice he’s got a new handicapped sticker on his SUV. When asked why the sticker, he replies because of his weight. (I know a person such as this.)

Personally, I would feel kinda sad since he’s let himself deteriorate to the Nth degree, but also feel a little angry since his poor habits might be taking the parking spot of a veteran with an artificial leg.

As I said in the article, I don’t think a severe tax on soda is a smart idea. But, a 2 cent tax per can would hardly impact consumption at all (a purely unscientific guess) after you consider the volume of soda sold in the US. Then use it to help fund diabetes research or pay for obesity related illnesses.

Oct 31, 2009
11:30 pm
#20 Financial Samurai :

Cool. Perhaps. I think fit people just like to make fun of unfit people b/c fit people are bitter they have to work out and suffer and less fit people don’t care and spend their time doing more interesting things!

How’s that for a hypothesis?

Oct 31, 2009
11:34 pm
#21 Matt SF :

That works, too! I was hating life right around my 90th push up today!!! :)

Nov 16, 2009
2:50 pm
#22 foxfire :

I would say no. I find junk food to be one of those legal crimes which I can enjoy every once in a while. I am already paying a higher price by damaging my health and ultimately paying more for health services. The government always tries to make everything that is good either illegal or so expensive that it is inaccessible.

Dec 31, 2009
9:30 pm
#23 Frugal Fatty :

It’s difficult to type this with a steady head and hand because I found your post so sad and hurtful – not to mention lacking in any real scientific back up.

I’ll start by saying I am a morbidly obese woman, 6 feet tall and 350 pounds. I’m also very healthy, with normal blood pressure, normal blood sugar, and high-normal cholesterol. Aside from scheduled visits for the birth control shot, I’ve seen my doctor less than once per year on average during my entire adult life.

It really ticks me off that people like you and, apparently, many who read your blog would take one look at me and assume that I’m a drain on healthcare. It further ticks me off that people who make posts like yours lamenting about how all the fatties are slurping up tax dollars like milkshakes at Sonic fail to notice things like the fact that while we’ve been getting fatter and fatter as a nation, we’ve also been living longer and longer. Or that, when you actually look at the hard data (and don’t rely on sound bites distributed to MSNBC via weight loss clinic “scientific studies”) you see that fat is not a death sentence, and that we fatties tend to live just as long and just as productively as you normal-weighters.

You might also consider that type II diabetes can actually LEAD to weight gain – people often go undiagnosed for years while they gain weight as a result of the disease, so that by the time they are diagnosed all anyone sees is THE FAT and therefore assume that the fat caused the diabetes rather than the other way around. Cut your disabled neighbor a little slack, unless you’ve been privy to his medical records for the past 20 years and know this to not be the case.

Having said all of that, I will also say that I suppose I would support a tax on junk food, but for reasons other than your own. Which are, namely, that they are (and/or should be) considered a luxury item – a completely unnecessary frivolity.

I rarely buy them because they are a poor value and I would much rather have some hearty beans and rice or homemade corn bread or something else far better tasting and much cheaper. Shocking, I know – a fatty who doesn’t munch down doritos & coke for breakfast! Pick yourself up off the floor, there’s more of us out there (that is, health conscious, frugal minded, & extraordinarily obese people) than you think.

And thanks to FS & MLR for supporting the idea that fatties aren’t all evil slobs. Much appreciated.

Sign me –

The Frugal FATTY

Jan 1, 2010
2:24 pm
#24 Matt SF :

I think thou doth protest too much.

My intent wasn’t to offend — just say what many people are thinking. If you took it that way, it could be due to your above average sensitivity to the subject matter considering the tone of your comment portraying yourself as an “evil slob”.

This wasn’t intended to be an article submission to Nature or MMWR on the obesity trends of America. You can try to pick apart the science by downplaying the MSNBC videos, but just go to any widely accepted medical community you like and try to disprove that obesity is (and will continue to be) a life-shortening medical condition.

If you still don’t believe it, then may I suggest you write a grant, design your own study, and present the findings to disprove the CDC, AMA, NIH, and or any other globally recognized medical organization.

Fact is, the obese are living longer (and the non-obese alike) due to advances in medical technology and modern pharmacology for the express purpose of extending life beyond normal parameters. So I wouldn’t rest your entire argument of “being fat isn’t a death sentence” when one of the first treatments for morbid obesity is losing weight.

As the old adage goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Jan 1, 2010
3:46 pm
#25 Frugal Fatty :

Ah…precisely the response I expected.

What I would suggest is that you, sir, READ the actual studies from which the data “proving” the life threatening nature of obesity is taken. What you will find (if you actual do this, which I’m 100% certain you will not) is that the overall data within said studies does not prove that theory – it only “proves” it when you select certain data and exclude other data from within the same study.

And yes, medical science is extending our lives, but if you apply logic to the issue it stands to reason that IF we are getting fatter and IF being fat shortens your life THEN our combined life spans should either be stalling or getting shorter. There’s no way around it. Regardless of advances in medical science.

I find it truly hysterical that you mention a “treatment” for “morbid obesity.” Really! Hysterical! I mean, gut-bustingly funny! Because I’m morbidly obese, as was established in my first post. Also healthy as can be. So what would I be treating, exactly? What medical condition would I be improving by losing weight? Blood sugar levels have been great for years, even through 2 pregnancies. Ditto blood pressure and cholesterol – which, at age 40, just this year has ‘spiked’ into the high-normal range. And my joints feel better and work better than they did when I was a gangly teen who weighed half what I do now.

What we need to do in the health care system is remove obesity altogether as a “diagnosis”. Because it serves no one and no purpose other than to shame people regarding their size AND further line the pockets of weight loss industry – this despite the fact that any fool who has been on a diet can tell you that they don’t work. It is the ultra-rare person who loses weight and keeps it off. I mean, really. I bet you couldn’t count on one hand the number of people you personally know who lost more than 20 pounds and kept it off for more than 3 years. Even fewer who kept it off for 10 years – and that includes those who underwent the butchery known as “weight loss surgery”.

I understand that it makes part of the population feel morally superior to be able to point at people like me or your fat neighbor and accuse us of draining resources that would otherwise go to what they would deem as more deserving people but how about instead we all look beyond the fat and see the person? Or, if that person is ill, the affliction? Why? Because it is FAR easier to take one look at the fatty and, if he has heart disease, say that it is his own damn fault for being fat. While his thin brother, also with heart disease, gets a free pass. So Brother #1 is told to lose weight, while Brother #2 gets medication and surgical treatment without argument from anyone. So when Brother #1 dies, why do people say he died? Because he was fat. When he really died because of untreated heart disease.

As the old adage goes: Things are not always as they appear.

Jan 1, 2010
6:54 pm
#26 Matt SF :

Likewise on the anticipated response. Rationalize your argument however you like, but you’re clearly upset about something else and it’s spilling out onto my blog.

Who actually takes the time to write a 500+ word comment unless they’ve got a chip on their shoulder? So have the good nature to take out your frustrations to a forum somewhere else because I refuse to let you hijack the comment section just because your feelings are hurt.

And as for “the fact that any fool who has been on a diet can tell you that they don’t work. It is the ultra-rare person who loses weight and keeps it off.”

Me, grandmother, mother, two cousins. That’s one hand. Once we changed our eating behavior, keeping the weight off was easy.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend.

Jan 1, 2010
8:45 pm
#27 Frugal Fatty :

I’m upset about exactly what I’m talking about – and I won’t argue that I’ve got a chip on my shoulder the size of the Rocky Mountains about it. It struck a chord to see it – yet again – in a place I felt safe from this kind of discrimination (the frugal living blogosphere).

And, I’m sorry, I wouldn’t normally call anyone out like this, particularly on their own blog – but you are either lying about your family’s astounding ability to lose weight and keep it off, or you have some absolutely amazing genetic thing going on that is to be envied beyond belief. Like, should be featured on “Good Morning, America!” amazing. Or the Today Show, at the very least.

I realize, too, that it is very difficult to have something that you believe to your core to be challenged in such a way – kinda like when you run into a spendthrift who doesn’t believe he can have a savings account, innit?

Best to you and yours on the holiday weekend as well. I hope you’ll at least do some research and look up the actual statistics regarding obesity and health. If you want study/journal names, let me know.

Jan 1, 2010
11:08 pm
#28 Matt SF :

Look, I’ve been more than nice in my two responses and I’m censoring my usual tough love attitude far more than normal because you’re obviously hyper sensitive about the issue.

But calling me a liar and insulting my family is way outside of the normal boundaries of blogging etiquette.

You’re 40 years old, not 4. So leave the temper tantrum in the playpen.

Had I been any other blogger, I would have deleted your comments immediately for inappropriate behavior, as well as hijacking a comments section based on sin taxes. Your comments were never about staying taxation, but more to discuss your sad/desperate plea to rally support for your near delusional belief that it’s perfectly acceptable to be a 40 year old female weighing 350 pounds.

There are plenty of bloggers who have struggled to keep off the weight, and if you ask around, I’m sure you’ll find them. JD at Get Rich Slowly is the first that comes to mind. Last I checked, he’s walking full marathons to stay fit. He lost the weight by cutting out the snacks, and busting his hump to burn off the weight, and but more importantly, he changed his eating behaviors to keep the weight off long term.

So instead of being so rude and sarcastic with the “genetic abnormality” and “Today Show” spiteful comments just because you’ve got a “chip on my shoulder the size of the Rocky Mountains about it“, perhaps you would consider that real people actually put in the work everyday to:

1) do real exercise everyday
2) use self control to back away from the table
3) modify their eating behaviors to curb their cravings
4) adjust their diets according to their weight loss or weight neutral goals

FYI: I’ve also deleted your ability to comment on this blog without prior approval. If you wish to have it reinstated, my private email is available in the contact me tab at the top.

Jan 18, 2010
11:02 am
#29 Jeff S. :

Interesting topic. The amount of “junk, trash, unhealthy” things available to us is astounding. To be able to tax all of these things to the extent of recouping revenue to aid in the care and treatment of these individuals ailments would be a start. Let me see if I can remember one important quote from the past, aw yes here it is “you can’t fix ******” well you get the picture. Some people will not change bad habits and frankly, they outnumber those who will.
Great post!!!!
.-= Jeff S.´s last blog ..Are you missing your opportunities? =-.

Jan 18, 2010
11:22 am
#30 Matt SF :

Thanks Jeff. It’s not the best or efficient way since everything in moderation is my favorite argument (still love my junk food), but as you said, is a good place to start. I think the main selling point is to make the tax very small unlike the cigarette tax. Considering the sheer volume of junk food sold in the U.S., one could raise a lot of funds rather quickly for research/medical expenses by just adding 1 penny to the dollar.

Of course, the problem is keeping the bureaucrats hands off it and make sure it goes to the proper places.

Feb 24, 2010
10:54 pm
#31 Jerry :

Like the proposal Matt. I would go for 3% minimum for the simple reason that medical technology will find ways of keeping even the morbidly obese with significant health issues alive even longer. I also don’t see any reduced consumption/demand as a result, but we may get closer to a break even in increased medical costs.

Feb 25, 2010
3:32 pm
#32 Matt SF :

Thanks Jerry. It’s not popular idea by any means, but I think you’re correct since medication prolongs life when simple lifestyle choices/modifications could generate far larger bang for the buck.

Of course, that’s the hard sale to make considering no one wants to change their behavior when modern medicine is “supposed” to do all the work for us.

I also agree that a small tax like 3% wouldn’t affect consumption over the long term. Sure, a few folks may protest on principle, but if they’re addicts, they’ll revert back to their modus operandi.

Whatever the outcome, it will be fun to watch because I really do believe that soda is the “new tobacco” and the debate is far from over.

Oct 24, 2011
10:14 pm
#33 Health Conscience or fix America? :

Economic Consequences

Overweight and obesity and their associated health problems have a significant economic impact on the U.S. health care system (USDHHS, 2001). Medical costs associated with overweight and obesity may involve direct and indirect costs (Wolf and Colditz, 1998; Wolf, 1998). Direct medical costs may include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to obesity. Indirect costs relate to morbidity and mortality costs. Morbidity costs are defined as the value of income lost from decreased productivity, restricted activity, absenteeism, and bed days. Mortality costs are the value of future income lost by premature death.

National Estimated Cost of Obesity

The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are staggering. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion (Finkelstein, 2009).
Retrieved on October 24, 2011 from

For any of you who wonder what obesity costs America and its tax payers there you go from the leading researcher on obesity in America—The CDC–
What is a good solution, and would the government institute the “fat tax” because they care about the nations’ health or is it the pocket books of the people that run the government. Remember the average tax payer is paying for those big government pensions, as well, when they retire and what are the statistics that the average tax payer has a pension in their benefits package.
Food for thought all you tax payers out there.
We have the freedom of choice to make our own choices and what we do in our lives whether it be the choice of what we wear when we wake up to what food we put in our mouths. Troubling thing is now the insurance companies that we pay all our premiums to each year want you to eat “right” so you don’t cost them as much in your life time (troubling). Once insurance companies came into the health care industry, and now have their hands in every aspect of it, we have skyrocketing prices and decreased care and helth outcomes since then. Really, big business doesn’t belong in a caring field. Anyway, if one is disabled in this country for the morbidities caused by obesity it is not the tax payers choice to pay for their medical bills or feed them either, that choice was handed down by the powers of be in the government. Anymore it is the people that do pay their taxes that are getting hit on every side. With no jobs left to turn to I do not know if this country will have any tax payers left to pay for anything anymore. This country has its big share of problems, and the only thing that will fix it are the voting people of this nation, and not increasing the tax load on citizens or telling people what they have to do. Scarey isn’t it how messed up this country has gotten since the enactments of increased government power and spending have taken affect (decades ago). In the government mind set they think they are there to tell us what to do and how much we need to pay them, and I really thought that the government in the United States of America was placed in action by the people and for the people and the powers of be (everyone that holds a government position or seat)are in their places to protect the people, or did I grow up in a dream land that was just in every American History book that I have ever read?

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