The Advantages and Disadvantages of Limiting Access to Junk Foods or Taxing Unhealthy Foods
Obesity is a disorder exacerbated by consuming unhealthy foods and exercising insufficiently. When a person absorbs a lot of energy, primarily sugars and fat, and does not burn it off by physical activity or exercise, the excess energy is retained as fat in the body. Obesity does not grow overnight; it results from poor lifestyle decisions and diets (Olstad, Ball, Abbott, McNaughton, Le, Mhurchu, Pollard, and Crawford 2016, p 27). For example, unhealthy food choices could include eating high-fat fast or processed foods, avoiding unrefined carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits, intake of too much alcohol, eating more than an individual needs, and comfort eating (Mytton, Eyles, and Ogilvie 2014, p 432). The debate on whether the government should tax the unhealthy foods has been hotly debated. The issue of obesity is mainly affecting children as they are developing a weight-related problem later in life indicating that unhealthy lifestyles and eating choices continue to adulthood. It is no doubt that unhealthy foods need to be taxed or limited in distribution.
Positive aspects of limited distribution or taxing unhealthy foods
Taxing unhealthy foods has a substantial benefit to the organization and can only be achieved through implementing taxes on foods high in saturated fats and sugary drinks and also subsidizing vegetables and fruits. Unhealthy foods have serious health risks to the public and young population. Soft drinks that are rich in sugar are known to cause obesity and increased blood pressure. Introducing taxes or having limited distribution on the soft drinks will go a long way in reducing the medical cost that is associated with obesity and hypertension (Freudenberg, Franzosa, Sohler, Li, Devlin, H. and Albu 2015, p 12). Moreover, foods that are rich in sugar and fats result in increased level of cholesterol that leads to serious life threating conditions such as heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis. Introducing limited distribution and taxing unhealthy foods will cut the high cost of medication and treatment that is mostly associated with such diseases.
Taxation of unhealthy foods will make sure that the revenue generated will pay for the social cost of the foods. Consumption of unhealthy foods results in the problem of obesity. For instance, in the United Kingdom, the cost to the society as a consequence of obesity is more than 7 billion pounds a year. The cost comes in several ways firstly, the cost of treating a disease that is related to obesity such as strokes, angina, diabetes, and heart disease (Waterlander, Mhurchu, and Steenhuis 2014). Another cost is time lost at work as a result of the obesity problem. Similarly, there are also earning that are lost from premature deaths and obesity-related diseases such as heart disease and stroke (Mytton, Eyles, and Ogilvie 2014, p 432). Moreover, people who are obsessed are likely to miss chances of employment resulting in reduced tax revenues and increased higher welfare spending. Mainly increasing the cost of the unhealthy food through taxation will lead to reduced demand for the unhealthy foods playing a crucial role in the levels of obesity.
Similarly, introducing limited distribution and taxation of unhealthy foods will encourage healthier diet plans and practices. A tax on unhealthy foods would result in increased prices of the products. This will push people to start buying and choosing healthier products that will lead in improved health and reduction of obesity and other related diseases (Darmon, Lacroix, Muller, and Ruffieux 2014, p 66). Additionally, tax and limited distribution of the unhealthy product will encourage distributors and suppliers to supply foods that are low in sugar and fat. Moreover, fast food outlet will be forced to provide a wider variety of foods products. This would reduce the cases of obesity and another related disease that are expensive to maintain and drain the income of the individual and the community as a whole. Consequently, the citizens and the community will have more disposable income at hand and therefore in can be used to improve the life of the community and the citizens.
Additionally, limited distribution and taxation of unhealthy food products will result in increased revenues. Through increased taxes on unhealthy foods, the government will be able to raise a substantial amount of income. The income for harmful products can be used to offset other taxes on healthier foods such as vegetables and fruits. This will go a long way in helping the people and the community kick out the diseases that are associated will obesity such as heart problems. Moreover, limited distribution and taxation would result in equity neutral. Most of the unhealthy foods for the rich families and introducing taxes will ensure that the effect is felt equally across all the sectors (Mytton, Eyles, and Ogilvie 2014, p 432). This ensures that higher tax is charged on higher income earning families ensuring that there is equality across all income levels.
Negative aspects of limited distribution or taxing unhealthy foods
There are some negative aspects of limited distribution or taxing unhealthy foods, and they include Firstly, it is unfair, and it is discriminatory. There is some accepted level of the unhealthy foods that and the individual is allowed to take and to increase or having limited distribution would hurt people who do not consume the foods widely. Moreover, taxation of unhealthy foods is another scheme by the government to raise more revenue. The tax on the unhealthy foods should be neutral revenue (Darmon, Lacroix, Muller, and Ruffieux 2014, p 66). The central concept should not be about raising the total tax but about switching the tax burden. For instance, if the government raise more than 2 billion pounds a year the same should be used to subsidize healthy foods, reduce other types of tax, and pay for health care.
Taxation of unhealthy foods is a tax for the poor. It is highly likely that low-income families are the ones who are likely to consume unhealthy foods. And there increasing taxation or limited distribution of the unhealthy foods will result in increased inequality. However, if the tax in geared towards impacting on equality then the revenue from unhealthy foods should be targeted towards benefiting the poor (Taber, Chriqui, Vuillaume, and Chaloupka 2014). Primarily, an inequality need not happen from the taxation to ensure that the issue of obesity and other related diseases are dealt with. Importantly, the government should not dictate to the people on the foods they should consume. So the people should be free to eat the foods they like.
In conclusion, obesity is an issue that affects most nations and measure should be put in place to makes sure that the problem is solved. Such measures may include taxation and limited supply to reduce the effects of obesity and other related diseases. Unhealthy foods have serious health risks to the public and young population. Soft drinks that are rich in sugar are known to cause obesity and increased blood pressure. Introducing taxes or having limited distribution on the soft drinks will go a long way in reducing the medical cost that is associated with obesity and hypertension.
Darmon, N., Lacroix, A., Muller, L. and Ruffieux, B., 2014. Food price policies improve diet quality while increasing socioeconomic inequalities in nutrition. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 11(1), p.66.
Freudenberg, N., Franzosa, E., Sohler, N., Li, R., Devlin, H. and Albu, J., 2015. Peer Reviewed: The State of Evaluation Research on Food Policies to Reduce Obesity and Diabetes Among Adults in the United States, 2000–2011. Preventing chronic disease, 12.
Mytton, O.T., Eyles, H. and Ogilvie, D., 2014. Evaluating the health impacts of food and beverage taxes. Current obesity reports, 3(4), pp.432-439.
Olstad, D.L., Ball, K., Abbott, G., McNaughton, S.A., Le, H.N., Mhurchu, C.N., Pollard, C. and Crawford, D.A., 2016. A process evaluation of the Supermarket Healthy Eating for Life (SHELf) randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 13(1), p.27.
Taber, D.R., Chriqui, J.F., Vuillaume, R. and Chaloupka, F.J., 2014. How state taxes and policies targeting soda consumption modify the association between school vending machines and student dietary behaviors: a cross-sectional analysis. PloS one, 9(8), p.e98249.
Waterlander, W.E., Mhurchu, C.N. and Steenhuis, I.H., 2014. Effects of a price increase on purchases of sugar sweetened beverages. Results from a randomized controlled trial. Appetite, 78, pp.32-39.