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Should junk food be taxed?

September 2, 2009

Increasingly vocal calls for taxes on sugary drinks and junk food are fueling a behind- the-scenes battle that public health officials say is reminiscent of America’s war on cigarettes.

Fueling the debate are revenue-hungry federal, state and local governments officials who are eying a potential $50 billion windfall from taxes on over 10 years.

Take a look at the New York City Department of Health’s ad discouraging people from drinking sugary sodas, and let us know whether you think a junk food tax would be good public policy, or an intrusive step too far by the nanny state.


While we are at it, let’s tax the air that we breath and how about start telling us when we can eat and go the the bathroom! Gotta love BIG BROTHER!!!


The messages in these ads are so over the top that they are counterproductive to serious efforts to address obesity.Like most foods, soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are a source of calories. But simply naming one food or beverage as the cause of obesity minimizes this complex disease. The key to energy balance and maintaining a healthy weight is counting calories in and calories out, not focusing on specific foods or abstaining from any one food or beverage in particular.– American Beverage Association


If the gov taxes alcohol and cigarettes due to unhealthy reasons (?) yet also tax things as necessary as fuel and property, it only seems appropriate. (!?)

Posted by Stu | Report as abusive

I think the best idea would be to stop subsidizing corn farmers. At least then junk food (made of sugar rather than corn-syrup)would have the chance to be turned to energy before making the jump right into fat like corn-syrup does.

Posted by stu | Report as abusive

A tax credit for vegetables would seem more appropriate.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

This article on junk food are readable.Good responses from many readers.Now, a days it has become fashioned to say that ,cool drinks,pizza cakes,more sweet consumption on sugar candies,and from many Indian and Pakistan sweets are responsible for obesity and some fat related diseases.As per medical reports,these junk food,sweet beverages may create obesity,more Blood Pressure and some digestive dis order,and,lastly,psycho problems among frequent users.If any government wants to impose more taxes to these latest products for more revenue and for minimum usages by us.Good in one aspect.Whereas ,what happened more taxes on tobacco products.Whether that created,crazy bad habits are stopped.Not much encouraging results till now.Old habits goes to the shelf and new habits of sweet,cool drinks and junk food among new generations are part of creating,urges towards these products by massive advertisement and publicity,especially spending huge amounts to world famous celeberatives for mad of these drinks.Finally speaking,whether tobacco or chewing a pawn in Asian countries,or drinking in public places,or seeing more tempted videos,crazy to certain films,songs,mad rush to world famous artist shows also comes under the categories for more taxation for arresting these mad tendencies among students,youngsters and among adults.Speaking of against these products are easy,but implementation against more usages are very difficult.


Ok, I’ve written about this way too many times, so for the sake of clarification, I’ll make it real easy for Americans to understand. Let’s all say it together “Socialism”. There it is, plain and simple. End of story.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Soda and junk food cause one to get fat. Over 30% of Americans are obese and the majority are overweight.Soda and junk food have almost no vitamin content, no minerals (except salt), plenty of perservatives, and enough calories to replace a meal. Basically one is putting sugar and poison into their body. Why has an institution not penalized this practice until now?With raising taxes the most common detriment is that it is bad for business. Unfortunately the amount of money the US spends per capita on healthcare alone offsets the amount of income the soda and junk food producers contribute. Cut in half the number of overweight persons in the US and you significantly decrease the 33% of our National Budget that goes to running healthcare systems.In my person opinion putting a $0.02 per can tax on a Cola isn’t going to stop anyone from drinking soda over water. If the US wants to get serious about its weight problem they need to take more drastic measures. In Britain, the 2nd most obese country, the tax on soda and junk food exceeds 20%. How fat will America have to get before the government has to really force us to take care of ourselves?

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

Yes, junk food should be taxed as America’s junk food capitals is doing the most damage to your waistline. Junk foods increase your calorie intake and too much of it can cause Obesity and Increased risk of Heart problems as well as Diabetes, High BP.Also many a times I have felt that some of the junk food is not very easily digestible and heavy on stomach.


Why stop at sugary drinks… why not also tax high cholesterol foods like eggs, milk and cheese. These are all just as bad for you… or so the pundits would have you think. ANY food in excess is bad for you. Why not also tax any household cleaning items more for polluting our water supplies and our environment? These cause cancers and all kinds of health issues.. that end up costing me to pay for others health issues… TAXES are getting completely out of control period. Sugary drinks are just the latest thing those on the left want to demonize. This is really just about CONTROL.. contro l over what you eat, what you do.. and increasingly what information you do and don’t get (fairness doctrine reincarnation)…. and taking as much of your hard earned money as they can get their hands on.. ohhh I forgot… BECAUSE they know what is better for you than you do… Why is it our life expectancy is the highest it has ever been if we are all eating so unhealthy? (it must be all those preservatives in the food we do eat!) The answer is better medical care.. (which costs $$$)…. I have a novel idea.. to save tax dollars… why don’t the congressmen and senators take a pay cut (or forgo a 6% – 10% raise every other year)… as a sign of goodwill and a shared sacrifice… lets just say.. I WON’T HOLD my breath for that one. Why is it that they always vote themselves a pay raise while the average working American is seeing pay decreases (or loss of jobs).

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

Michael Moore should be taxed.

Posted by Casper Lab | Report as abusive

If the goverment was serious about healthy eating, their is allready a program in place. The food stamp program. In Pennsylvania food stamp sales are NOT taxed, so who is going to be paying this? They don’t need to raise a tax, they need to stop letting people buy junk food with food stamps, make all food purchaces be healthy. An opportunity to teach healthy habits, with out raising taxes.

Posted by Julie | Report as abusive

Don’t tax junk food the rest of the world wants to see just how fat the US people can get. Paticularly their little, or not so little, porkers of children.

Posted by gd | Report as abusive

I think this does not go far enough. We need fat-camps NOW!!! Round up the obese off the street and make them run until they get thin. Or better yet, we could put them on generator-bycicles so that they make electricity in the process. There could even be a get-out-of-fat-camp-for-a-fee program for those who are not amenable to re-education. I think that anyone who is against such a societal change is simply not thinking of the children.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

If these things are so bad, why doesn’t the FDA remove them from the American market — not leave them to be taxed?

Posted by bill | Report as abusive

First put the movie “Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days” in all the movie theaters, so people know their choice of food really will determine most of their weight and health ( and click “Reversing Diabetes”). Then, if people, now educated, still choose junk food, the tax collector can come in.


If the tax rev goes directly to Medicaid/Medicare, I say tax it. Maybe when healthy foods becomes cheaper than junk food people will start buying apples over Twinkies.The implementation will be a little tricky though. I think it should only be applied to ready to eat food. (candy, soda, fruit-flavored drinks, TV dinners, food with an unnaturally long shelf life etc.)

Posted by Esqua | Report as abusive

Let’s tax stupidity as well, while we’re at it. If we did, all the so-called law makers would be broke. The government has no business whatsoever dictating what kinds of foods we choose to eat and certainly is not able to tax it. Can anyone out there say “socialism”?

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Seeing junk food as a potential source of addiction, the same as alcohol and tobacco, has nothing to do with the “nanny state” or socialism.I smoke, but I’m thin as a rail. I pay taxes on smokes because it’s bad for my health, especially if I do it too much.Now try to find me some significant differences between that, and eating alot of junk food –it’s bad for my health, especially if I do it too much.Time to pay up like the rest of us getting our “fix”, fatsos.

Posted by jlh | Report as abusive

The agricultural industry and food processing industry are the latest version of huge corporations exploiting the consumer for huge profits. If its frozen or comes in a box, chances are its not good for you. Fast food is fat laden poison. Why do you think we all have to take acid-blockers and cholesterol drugs? Why are so many of us diabetic? Why are we depressed and our kids have ADHD?Wake up!

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

How far will they go? If this happens, the gov’t will control what you eat, literally. I am a grown woman of 41, and I pay my own insurance and bills. I depend on no one. I paid for my own college and grad school without loans and grants. I can choose what I eat all by myself without a bunch of people (who are getting paid for their opinion) making my decisions for me. I have raised two very healthy (not fat) children who make good choices in their eating and exercise habits. I was the parent there, not a government. To support people who choose not to work, choose not to apply for citizenship, choose not to make choices that would extend their lives, choose to depend on taxes for their very beings, any more of these and I will lose the house I have never defaulted on. Middle class cannot pay for everyone and still have any life that was attained by hard work and sacrifice previous to the nanny government system. “Personal responsibility” should be the new catch phrase.

Posted by Misled in Georgia | Report as abusive

I eat junk food because I like it. After years of science, health and P.E. I have come to understand it is bad for me and my parents taught me me to take responsibility for my actions. Getting fat does not cause any physical danger to others unlike smoking, drinking or drugs. So why would we have it taxed? A couple of possibilities come to mind. (1)Socialism, (2)government needs more money and they made a good excuse or (3) health food nuts are trying to take over the world. Eating too many hot dogs is bad for me too and I don’t like them so lets tax them next.

Posted by Heather Rasmussen | Report as abusive

Sorry people, but you’re wrong when you claim that it’s your own problem when you choose to disrespect your body by eating junk food. We all pay through higher healthcare premiums so that you can be treated for you obesity health issues. And if a small junk food tax really would have a significant economic impact for you, and you choose to eat less junk food – then you should probably be thanking the junk food tax for saving your life.It’s pathetic to hear the narrow-minded redneck talk of “it’s my own problem – I can do what I want”. No, we live in a society – TOGETHER. And as a last resort you cry “socialism!” to hopefully spread some irrational paranoia. I have a suggestion; why don’t you get a passport and try to visit some countries other than the US. Oh, sorry – I forgot. You don’t do public transportation because anything public is “socialism”.

Posted by Philip | Report as abusive

We should definitely have a tax on junk food and drinks. No nutrition, just a fix, also causes myriad problems that plague society. We should help our nation to build healthy habits. Having the junk and real foods grouped together is simply a mistake – it puts out the wrong message. In addition. it is not fair that millions are intentionally making themselves obese, giving themselves heart problems, eating trash until they are seriously ill with diabetes, and so on and so on… I hope we choose to accept the taxes and the priceless benefits that will come with them.

Posted by lindsay brewington | Report as abusive

The issue shows just how far govt. will go for revenue.No doubt there are health effects translating to monetary effects, but it is a smokesceen to cover the real purpose, add more revenue. Why?To cover ever increasing spending. Doubt about the tax base and the ability to tax to cover obligations is a nagging worry to me.

Posted by Ge | Report as abusive

A big contender on this front is red meat such as beef, veal, pork and lamb. No matter how these foods are prepared, they are incredibly high in cholesterol. It was once purported that eggs were a healthier alternative to getting protein; however, egg yolks too are packed with bad cholesterol.

Foods with High Cholesterol

Posted by jimamily | Report as abusive

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