Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tax the people, not the products.

I think this idea is more feasible than taxing products. However, I don’t advocate BMI as an indicator of weight status. So, what gives? I’m not sure. Weigh in, folks. Pun intended : )

Undoubtedly, taxing “unhealthy” foods will lead to a further socioeconomic gap between the rich and the poor as such taxes would more proportionately affect the poor than the rich. I’m way too liberal to support such a thing – sorry, Oklahoma and your redness. But how can we quantify an American “fat enough” to be taxed? Hmm.

Many of America’s large companies and corporations reward employees for healthful actions. A friend who recently visited was given a health coach with whom she speaks with over the phone on a regular basis. She’s started keeping food records and reporting them to the coach. After my initial reaction of, “Health Coach? Can I see some credentials?”…I saw our friend recording her intake, despite our not-quite-ideal intake each day. The incentive? Money! Talk about a win-win…or at least that’s how I see it. Same goes for working out. Record your hours in the gym and receive monetary reward for your efforts. Suh-weet. Similarly with husband’s workforce, those employees who fill out the Health Questionnaire are rewarded monetarily. And they’re on the clock while they fill them out – again, win-win! Here’s the real kicker: make and keep regular preventive doctor appointments and earn money for doing so (i.e. dental exams, colonoscopies, and mammograms). Sound insane? There’s companies out there paying their employees for maintaining their health. Hard to believe there can be such extremes in the world.

More and more companies are building gyms with employee-only access, free of cost to employees. Husband’s work is hiring a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) next year, even. Seemingly, if you want the support in weight-loss and health endeavors…they’re at most people’s disposal -- especially those in corporate America. If we could get cafeterias on board with palatable (maybe even delicious…), nutritious food, maybe we’d see some overall health benefits.

Anyways. Rant over. If the US were to tax the fat – what criteria would their “fatness” be based off of?

…Waist-to-hip ratio?
…A modified Metabolic Syndrome (2-3 qualifying criteria versus the current standard)?
…A BMI greater than ______? What do you think?

P.S. I still advocate a sales tax on sugar and high-fructose corn syrup sweetened soda!
P.P.S. Thanks for the blog topic request, Erin...it was a great one!


  1. Taxing the end result is so bogus, I don't think it would actually help but piss people off. The better solution I feel is to focus on the preventative measures like the companies you mention above are doing. We have to change our mindset as Americans. Why not try to prevent the problem rather than dealing with the aftermath?? Prevention naturally eliminates so much of the health care now. I don't know much about the new health bill in Congress, but I wish it would also focus more money on preventative measures than trying to figure out how to pay for all the expensive procedures resulting from poor health choices. Okay...off my soap box now :) Good blog!

  2. Focus on prevention is a shot in the dark, I feel. We won't know for decades if there's any good to come from prevention. And I do think the turn to prevention was a good move, but obesity in all of the US continues to rise, among the rich and poor. Do we continue doing what isn't working? Continue dumping money the US doesn't have into a hopeful solution? I don't know : ) Good food for thought, though!

  3. I'm editing my remarks : )

    I am employed in the field of prevention. I have much appreciation, love, passion, and hope for prevention and feel blessed every day to work in the field that I do. However, I also see first-hand the apathy and distaste Americans have towards taking hold of their health and gaining health through healthy lifestyle changes and eating patterns. And unfortunately, those individuals comprise the majority of my patients, and are more than likely a fair representation of US attitude towards nutrition and health through lifestyle changes.

    Ah! I do not have enough coffee in my system for such heavy remarks at 7am!

    Have a great day, LMC...the US misses you!

  4. I don't think it should necessarily be one or the other. I think it should be both. Obviously it's too late to prevent what has already happened in a huge percentage of the population, but of course we need to take preventive measures so that more and more people don't become obese. It is an interesting idea to tax people based on weight. I don't know how feasible it would be, but it's an interesting idea. I think the money incentive thing is a cool idea too, but I wonder how easy it would be to lie. I mean these people could be eating junk all day and just write in their food journal that they ate perfectly. Great topic Nicole

  5. people are struggling no one wants to be overweight, its an outward sign of not feeling happy inside, compassion is the key

  6. The whips have 150-160 calories (yeah, way too much, I know). I have to say, it isn't really worth all of those calories, and I usually only eat half at a time.

    Regarding your post, I have issues with taxing unhealthy foods because it clearly didn't work with cigarettes! If people want something, they will buy it...I just don't think it would work. Plus, you made a good point at the end, how would they define "unhealthy"....that would be a HUGE discussion that would probably never be solved..everyone has their own opinions. Thanks for bringing up the issue, really, it's intriguing!