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 Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?

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PostSubject: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:59 pm

Can We Fight Obesity by Slapping a Heavy Tax on Soda?

The solution to America's ballooning obesity epidemic lies not in weight-loss counseling or programs to make people more physically active, Kelly Brownell has come to believe. To effect real change, he argues, we need to shift the economic balance between healthful and unhealthful foods, to curtail the all-pervasive marketing of junk food -- and to tax soda.

Brownell, a professor of psychology and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, has been pondering obesity for decades, trying to tease out its causes and figure out how to counter them. Along the way, he has become a flashpoint figure in the obesity debate and a go-to guy when the media want to chew the fat about fat.

Co-author of the 2004 book "Food Fight: The Inside Story of the Food Industry, America's Obesity Crisis, and What We Can Do About It," Brownell made a splash again in April when his argument in favor of taxing soft drinks sweetened with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It's an idea he first proposed some 15 years ago; he believes its time may now have come. In addition to the advent of a new federal administration, one he sees as more open to such measures, "what's made it feasible now is the convergence of the bad economy -- states need the revenue -- and the awareness that the obesity problem has stampeded out of control," Brownell says.

The idea is simple: Slap an 18 percent tax on soda, and people will drink less of it. Since increased soda consumption is, Brownell says, one of the main contributors to our rising obesity rate, cutting back should lead to nationwide weight loss. Brownell sees such taxes starting with the states and eventually taking hold at the federal level, much the way tobacco taxes evolved.

Revenue from a soda tax might be used to fund obesity-prevention programs, particularly those aimed at helping kids maintain healthy lifestyles. Better yet: Use soda tax revenue to subsidize farming of healthful fruits and vegetables, just as government subsidies currently support corn that's turned into high-fructose corn syrup, which many blame for soda's insidious effect on our weight. While Brownell says that pledging to use revenue in those ways might make the new tax more palatable to the public, he concedes it would be impossible to ensure the funds would be used for healthful purposes unless such a requirement were written into law.

With or without a soda tax, public health officials and experts have signaled that combating obesity is a top priority. Late last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a three-day "Weight of the Nation" conference in Washington, bringing together academics, scientists, physicians and public health officials from all over the world.

Research presented at the meeting estimated the 2008 cost of treating obesity-related ailments in the United States at $147 billion, highlighting what a weighty matter obesity has become for the nation.

And the problem is, er, widespread. In late June, the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued a report showing that in 31 states, more than a quarter of adults are obese; in only one state, Colorado, are fewer than one in five adults obese, and in no state had the obesity rate decreased since last year.

Obesity-busting tactics embraced at the CDC conference included encouraging communities to build schools within walking distance of students' homes and making it easier for people to get access to healthful foods. These are in keeping with Brownell's stance that the public-health approach to fighting obesity must shift from treatment of those who are already fat to preventing others -- especially kids -- from getting that way.

But while Brownell is supportive of those community-based efforts, he believes their effects will be severely limited unless big changes are made in the way food is marketed and in the basic economics of food. Until healthful foods routinely cost less than unhealthful ones, getting people -- especially low-income people -- to eat them will remain a challenge, he says.

And unless limits are placed on the marketing of unhealthful foods, the whole anti-obesity effort hardly stands a chance, Brownell believes. "Community programs won't work by themselves" in an environment where industry-funded temptations to eat poorly are constant and pervasive, Brownell says. "How can community programs contend with all that marketing?"

To some critics -- and, I'll confess, to me -- Brownell's approach smacks of paternalism and over-reliance on government intervention. Shouldn't diet and weight be a matter of personal responsibility, not the government's concern? Brownell counters that the ubiquity and marketing of fattening food stack the deck against individual willpower, and their allure is more than many people can resist on their own, no matter how responsible they are.

"If you take lab rats and throw them a bunch of food you got at 7-Eleven, some of those rats will triple their body weight," Brownell says research has shown. "Are those rats irresponsible? When people move to the U.S., they gain weight. Have they become less responsible? We have more obesity this year than last. Are we all less responsible?"

I'll concede that if we individuals are supposed to take charge of our own weight, too many of us are shirking that duty. And obesity's impact on health-care costs makes it everyone's problem, like it or not.

So, if obesity is one of the top public-health issues facing the nation (and the new administration in Washington), what to make of the nomination of Regina Benjamin, a highly accomplished and well-regarded physician who happens to be overweight, to the post of surgeon general? What message does President Obama's choice of her to lead America's public-health agenda send?

"She seems a very kind person who has persevered through very challenging circumstances," says Brownell, who, it bears noting, is not exactly thin himself. "What more do you need to know about a person?"

Benjamin, Brownell continues, "is an excellent role model because she does struggle with her weight. Her nomination underscores that there are better ways to judge a person than by how much she weighs."

Point well taken, Professor Brownell.

Sin Taxes.
Nice way to say tax a person for their vices.
But what will happen when the taxes these people will pay gets to be too much and they move on?
What happens after that is accomplished?Does the government just go about their buisness without the taxes they once collected or do you think they will move onto another sin?

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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:18 pm

Not this BS again! Mad I'm really sick and tired of these stupid ideas for taxing people's bad habits. Seriously, taxing soda? Do they really think it's going to stop people from drinking it?
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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:21 pm

I apologise in advance for my language but that's complete and utter BOLLOCKS Mad

I hate the way that governments seek to tax peoples' simple pleasures in life. I notice in every Budget in this country that the duty on beer and wine increases but duty on whisky tends to be pretty stagnant.

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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:31 pm

Oh I definitly disagree with this.
At one time before various idiots like John Branzhaf there was a sort of freedom regarding what you could or couldn't put into your body.
Now everyone else knows what's best for you,because they'd never tax something just because they could,now it's for"our own good".
I said it before and I'll say it again,if the government wants to treat me like a child then they should tax me like I am one.

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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:33 pm

I seriously wonder what they're going to tax next - most of the taxes raised in this country are not for hospitals or education or making sure that old folks have the means to heat their homes in the Winter, they're for funding a war that most people vehemently disagree with Mad

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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:39 pm

La Diva Carlotta wrote:
Not this BS again! Mad I'm really sick and tired of these stupid ideas for taxing people's bad habits. Seriously, taxing soda? Do they really think it's going to stop people from drinking it?

Just off the top of my head Diva when cigarette taxes went up people started rolling their own,then after the new tax increses went into effect on tobacco the tax on roll your own went up 2000% overnight.
So yes,maybe a 2000% tax increse on soda might make people stop drinking it.

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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:02 pm

La Diva Carlotta wrote:
Not this BS again! Mad I'm really sick and tired of these stupid ideas for taxing people's bad habits. Seriously, taxing soda? Do they really think it's going to stop people from drinking it?
I totaly agree, I'm really tired of hearing about this crap... Its come up and been shot down more times than it should be for someone to get the hint but no ones gotten the hint yet, people don't want it and arent voting for it frustated frustated
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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:07 pm

Reminds me of an article I just had to read for my Comp 1 class called "The Politics of Fat". The author didn't really take a side, but mainly described the two opposing sides. Two of the main fan boys of Government intervention are Clinton and Huckabee. Watch them also try to repeal the "Cheeseburger Bill".
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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:16 pm

To a point I agree on one thing. A lot of people eat unhealthy things because they can't afford something that is healthy. We all know it is a lot easier to buy a burger for a buck then it is to pay $5 for a chicken salad. But the dumb part is if you raise unhealthy food to be more expensive then healthy food that is a lot more money that you have to pay that you didn't have to begin with. 18% tax is rediculous. Right now I'm paying a 6% tax on everything I buy already. Pop is just something used to get someone going in the morning like coffee or a nice treat after a long day. What's the point of living in the land of milk and honey when your milk is going to cost your entire life saving and your honey has been banned because it is too sweet. Give me my freedoms without your needless arguments on my health. It is my body and my choice. You have no right to take that away from anyone. Including the poor and less fortunate.
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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:35 pm

We're already at 17.5% tax on almost everything over here.
My doctor says my BMI is too low do you think I'd get a discount on burgers?
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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:21 am

Raising taxes to dissuade people has been tried on cigarettes and as far as I know, the increase hasn't stop people from smoking; they may have cut back on their smoking but stopped all together.

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PostSubject: Re: Tax Soda,Fight Obesity?   Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:46 am

I suppose people cutting back is a step towards what the tax was implemented for, so I'd imagine the government still see it as a success.

I can actually understand the theory that things that cause problems should be more highly taxed than healthy things. But there is a line to be drawn. Most things hold a risk in some ways. What are they going to do next, go to the Health Food shops and tell them that nuts have to be taxed at 600% because lots of people have nut allergies?
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