Taxing Junk Food Could Lead to Healthier Diets

Would a hefty tax deter you from buying unhealthy food?

An unhealthy diet takes the greatest blame for the epidemic of obesity and chronic illness

How can we help people steer clear of unhealthy foods and beverages? Adding a hefty tax could do the trick

So much of what’s wrong with us and costs us so much money is due to the fact that far too many of us eat and drink way too many of the wrong foods and beverages, and not nearly enough of the good stuff.

In fact, too many of us eating and drinking far too much “crap” (if you pardon the technical term) earns by far the greatest blame for our current epidemic of obesity and chronic illness, a trend that’s afflicting even our kids and grandkids.

But hold on, folks, don’t despair because Dr. Fix-It is here with a plan to, well, fix it all, of course.

Taxing Junk Food to Decrease Demand

Here’s my plan: Tax the hell out of unhealthy foods and beverages.

And I mean really tax them. So if I were in charge, I’d start at making that stuff cost 30 to 40 per cent more than it costs now. And if that didn’t drive down demand quickly, I’d jack the taxes up by 10 per cent a month until demand really caved.

Study Proves Taxing Unhealthy Food is Effective

You see, according to a terrific small study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, taxing “bad” food and drink really does drop demand for that stuff. And quickly.

In this study, which was conducted at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, researchers were able to control a store in the building in which they upped the tax on unhealthy foods and drinks by 30 per cent. They also labelled those particular products as being “unhealthy,” and that resulted in an 11 per cent drop in demand for such products in just two months.

Keep that same program in place for six months, and eventually, I’m certain, most people who switched to a healthier diet will look and feel so much better from their new way of eating and drinking that they won’t ever go back to eating the garbage they had been in the habit of consuming before.

And best of all, this plan might bring in so much money in the short term — until enough people change their habits — that it might even pay for some of those hare-brained schemes certain political people have devised, like those groovy peace-and-love community meetings and parties that Vision Vancouver visionaries are planning to hoist on us.

I really should be in charge, eh?

Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.