Would a “Fat Tax” Work in the U.S.?

Fat Tax Concept

Would you chose a healthier snack if it were cheaper than the junky stuff? Researchers recently put that question to shoppers at a grocery store. This hypothetical situation was aimed at understanding which factors win out in our food decision-making processes.  When a healthier snack is less expensive than the unhealthier (but possibly tastier) one, which would you choose?

This study examined the hypothetical scenario of a “fat tax” on unhealthy snacks and measured how it would affect consumers’ choices. And it turns out, such a tax just might work…for some people. While some say that taxing unhealthy food items will prevent many deaths, others think that what we eat is a personal choice and government shouldn’t interfere; if we would like to choose unhealthy items, so be it.  Most can agree that a tax such as this one is not an all encompassing solution to the obesity problem. They also agree that a tax on unhealthy foods is felt more in the wallets of the poor than the rich.

With that in mind, this whole concept will only work if the healthy food is also made cheaper. Fruit and vegetables are expensive, particularly when purchased at a “convenience” store. Raising prices on the only food that those with little money can actually afford will just limit their options even further, not compel them to actually go out and buy healthy food.

The obesity crisis is a complicated problem for which there are no easy answers.  While the government, health experts, and economists hash it out, we can win the battle with our own bodies by staying active and eating a healthy diet.

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