Critical Thinking Paper Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Critical Thinking Paper The issue of junk food and soft drinks and the state of health among the teenage and young adults has been a nagging issue among health professionals and parents. The main problem has been how to ensure that people reduce junk food intake to reduce health complications. The greatest health complication that comes to mind when one refers to junk food, is obesity. Various people have come forward and advocated for the increase in taxes for junk foods and soft drinks in a push to increase the prices of these commodities, in the hope of shunning away buyers from the product. The rationale behind this is that soft drinks and junk food are price sensitive goods. Therefore, consumers will shy away from such goods the moment the prices have gone up higher than they can afford.
In this regard, raising taxes on junk food and soft drinks will encourage healthy living among the population reducing health related risks brought about by unhealthy foodstuff. This paper seeks to show that raising taxes on junk and other unhealthy food substances will help improve the health of the nation. Researchers have found taxation of junk food may have significant implications on the reduction of obesity cases and the improvement of health. It as revealed that patients indicated a lower level of calorie intake from pizza and soda when the prices of either commodity were increased by ten percent. In this regard, the study shows that an increase in prices could reduce obesity and health issues arising form these kinds of food (Grossman & Mocan 2011). When the prices were increased, the consumer’s purchasing power significantly reduces since they are forced to buy less if they intend to allocate the same amount of money on junk food before the prices went up. Taxation on junk food could therefore be an effective mechanism to force junk food buyers to take less of the foodstuff.
Some may consider taxation on junk and soft drinks as an inconsiderate and drastic move that may not bear fruit. The effect of taxation on consumption patterns of products has all had positive effects with regard to changing consume patterns. For example, cigarette smoking significantly reduced when taxes on the commodity were increased. This conclusion is especially true for North America and other high-income countries (Grossman & Mocan 2011). However, the effect of taxation on cigarettes did not consider the effect it could have on the sub populations.
This population found other means for acquiring cheaper cigarettes. While this may be true, junk food and cigarettes are different commodities, which make taxation all the more effective for junk food. The role of taxation in the fight against unhealthy living cannot be undermined. People have suggested that awareness programs should be used to make known the adverse effects of the commodity. However, despite the constant warnings through various media, consumption of these kinds of foods remains high while the society views the campaigns as irrelevant and ignores the message behind the advertisements. In this regard, health practitioners and other concerned parties are left with no option other than to advocate for taxation on junk food and soft drinks.
Fat tax is a proposal that could be a lasting solution to unhealthy living in the community. This concept proposes an increase in foods that are considered unhealthy. The good thing about this proposal is the fact that the taxes collected from fatty foods could subsidize healthy foods, making it cheap for people to buy healthy foods. The hope is that fat tax will work the same way taxation on cigarettes did. A survey carried out showed that if taxes were increased on sugar-sweetened drinks, the rate of obesity would reduce by 3.5 percent and more importantly, this move can prevent about 2700 deaths related to heart complications every year (Sassi et al 2009). In America, about 34 percent of the population is overweight. This is an alarming rate for any country.
In America, the trend has led to the increase of individuals falling victim to diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The main aim of taxation is to decrease over consumption of fatty foods and consequently reduce disease. This trend is likely to continue if the situation continues to be unchecked. Fat taxes are the best bet for a country like America to be counted among the healthy nations across the world. European countries such as Denmark have already taken steps to impose taxes on unhealthy foods. While it may be difficult to wean off people from junk food, it is crucial to understand why this may be so. Studies have shown that healthy food is more expensive that junk food (Grossman & Mocan 2011).
Therefore, this may be a contributor to the high dependency of junk food and other unhealthy foodstuff. Those dependent on junk food need to be given and incentive for eat healthily. As taxes are raised on junk food, then the opposite should be done to healthy options. Eating healthy among the America’s population is crucial. Government policy should be at the forefront ensuring that people are eating healthy so that life expectancy increases (Sassi et al 2009).
Governments have the responsibility to ensure that its citizens are providing with healthy foodstuff when the private sector has failed to offer healthy options. Government intervention would be to create a healthy environment by increasing tax on unhealthy products. There is the possibility that businesses that run fast-food outlets and companies that produce junk food shall complain. This is expected since such policy implementation will be seen as a move to undermine profitability in the business.
However, these companies are also seeing the need of offering healthy foods so that they do not lose customers who have decided to lead a healthier lifestyle. McDonald’s, for example, offers vegetarian burgers that target vegetarian clientele. Taxation will surely affect the businesses, but it is crucial for businesses to understand that they can adapt to the emergent trends in consumer preferences. McDonald’s and other outlets could be proof of the fact that fast food companies and junk food manufacturers can remain relevant in the food industry. The concept of fat tax does not aim to victimize the manufactures of junk food and soft drinks. Its main concern is with the excesses of fat sugars in the products.
All they have to do is to ensure that they remain below the limit. Governments will also be able to reduce the cost of health care that has been on the increase because of unhealthy food related complications. It is estimated that Australia spends about 1.5 billion dollars on obesity health care related issues every year. In America, the cost of obesity health care related diseases will be at 344 billion dollars in 2018 (Hellmich 2009). In addition, an obese person will have an average of $8,315 of medical bills each year by 2018. A healthy individual will pay well over $2000 less each year by 2018 (Hellmich 2009).
The rise in obesity rates does no good for any economy. While businesses continue to compromise the health of individuals, people continue to live dangerously. It is the prerogative of governments to ensure that taxation on junk and soft drinks are increased to ensure healthy communities around the world.
To conclude, taxation is the way forward in the fight against obesity. Obesity in the future may turn out to be the number one killer disease if the situation continues to go unchecked. Campaigns against junk food and soft drinks are dong their best to reduce the impact of obesity. Health practitioners are constantly advising patients to change eating habits to lead better lives free of unnecessary hospital visits. Governments advocate for healthy living. While that is good and commendable, words and rhetoric must be accompanied by action by advocating for taxation on junk food and soft drinks. The future lies in the hands of governments to utilize their power to influence healthy living.
Taxation is the key. References Grossman, M., & Mocan, H. N.
(2011). Economic aspects of obesity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Hellmich, N. (November 17 2009). Rising Obesity will cost U.
S. health care $344 billion a year. USA TODAY. Retrieved from http://usatoday30.usatoday.
com/news/health/weightloss/2009-11-17-future-obesity-costs_N.htm Sassi, F., Devaux, M., Cecchini, M., & Rusticelli, E. (January 01, 2009). The Obesity Epidemic: Analysis of Past and Projected Future Trends in Selected OECD Countries.