Fat Tax, Like California's, Is Too Much

In an effort to force citizens to make healthier choices, a few countries have instituted a "fat tax" or "junk food tax," which requires consumers to shell out more for unhealthy foods. So far, Denmark and Hungary have done so. France has so far restricted its levy to sweetened drinks.

Health advocates are calling for the United States to institute a junk food tax in hopes that it will help curb obesity and cut down on deaths resulting from cardiac arrest.

This could do away with some food trucks and Cuban bakeries.

Right now England is seriously considering enacting a version. Over here, several proponents point to a U.S. study that revealed a 26 percent decline in sales when sugar-sweetened drinks were taxed at a rate of 35 percent.

But a "soda tax", like one being considered in Richmond, California, would not have a huge impact overall. A study by the British Heart Foundation's Health Promotion Research Group, a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks would lower obesity levels by three and a half percent. I'm thinking that is not enough of an impact to justify such a huge tax hike.

Most advocates of a fat or junk food tax in the United States lean towards higher taxation on sugary drinks as opposed to a blanket tax on all junk food. Many say that foods high in fat yet healthy, such as nuts and avocados, might be unfairly caught in the net.

Dr. Walt Willet, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard University's School of Public Health, told ABC News, "Some high-fat foods are related to reduced weight gain. A focus on sugar and refined starch is better, but as a first step I favor a focus on sugar-sweetened beverages as the evidence is strongest for this."

Several U.S. surveys indicate that between 37 to 72 percent of Americans would favor of a junk food tax. Not surprisingly, the food industry is against any version of the fat tax, claiming it would lead to the loss of jobs -- adding that it would be unjust and ineffectual.

Miami smokers and ex-smokers know just how effective such a tax can be. When then Gov. Charlie Crist enacted a one dollar tax per pack of cigarettes in 2009, many Miami smokers decided it was time to quit.

I've said before that when people cannot properly govern themselves, I sometimes agree with government interference. But in this case, the ends do not seem to justify the means.

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Ily Goyanes
Contact: Ily Goyanes