My Case Against A Snack Tax to Battle Childhood Obesity

Should we allow the government to tax our food to create programs to battle childhood obesity, or should the parents take responsibility for their child's health?

The so-called “” is beginning to get a lot of attention. Buy unhealthy foods like potato chips, and you get to pay even more at the register.

I’ll admit, at first I thought it was a good idea. Eat healthy and you’re not penalized. It’s something we should all be doing anyway, right? But the more I thought about it, the more I was opposed to it. While I am a big proponent of healthy eating (and lifestyles in general), I also think that we should all be free to eat what we want.

We live in a country that glorifies food, and it’s no secret that our country is one of the fattest. Scientists are now predicting that our children will be the first generation to not live as long as their parents will. Obesity is clearly a major issue that faces our society—some may even call it an epidemic. Something has to be done to change our attitudes toward food, but penalizing people by taxing things like soda and chips is just another way for Big Brother to control us.

Supporters of the bill would probably argue that a large percentage (a proposed 40 percent or flat $10 million) of the money from the snack tax would go to fund programs to curb obesity in Maryland. But shouldn’t the fight against obesity start in the home?

As parents, I think we have a responsibility to teach our kids certain things, and healthy eating is learned at home. If we model good eating habits, then our kids will learn good eating habits.

And then there’s the good ole outdoors. What happened to kids getting outside and playing until the streetlights turn on? Video games and TV have taken over —the average American is watching four hours of TV each day. That doesn’t include time spent playing video games and surfing the web.

I agree, and I think we all can agree, that something needs to be done to battle obesity. But come on, a government tax that penalizes the purchase of the food items that cause the problem in the first place?

I find it hard to believe that we are a generation that is so uneducated that we can actually find true nutritional value in a bag of potato chips. I know that when I take my kids to eat McDonald’s, Chik-Fil-A, or any other fast food chain, that I’m not going to be giving them a nutritious meal. We eat there with the understanding that it’s a once-in-a-while meal.

Instead of allowing the government to take more of our money, we should be looking inward. Get your kids excited about eating good food by planting a vegetable garden, or if you’re limited for space, grow a tomato plant. Get them involved in picking out fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Model good eating habits. That’s right, we have to eat our veggies and at least to pretend to like them!

Childhood obesity is a real problem facing families and we need to fix it. But we don’t need the government to tax us more. Let’s get outside and play with our kids and enjoy getting well together.

renitareyes March 21, 2011 at 10:10 AM
This is sweet!!! major brands give out samples of their popular health products best place is "123 Get Samples" tell your friends too.
Lisa Massey Cain March 22, 2011 at 12:46 PM
I spend a lot of time writing about healthy snacking on http://www.snack-girl.com/ and I wish there was a simple solution to getting people to realize how bad junk food can be. I think any measure that will move people to healthier eating is a good one.
Maranda Trahan March 23, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Most people won't stop doing something because of these kinds of taxes. I think the government should stop trying to punish bad behavior (unhealthy eating, smoking). Using these scare tactics and 'punishment' system isn't really working for anything else -- our education system isn't better because we threaten schools and teachers with money and jobs if students don't preform well on tests; people don't stop smoking because there's an extra tax; and crime doesn't decrease because of the threat of jail. We should be rewarded for doing good things, like having a healthy lifestyle. The price of healthy foods should be cheaper, and maybe you should get some type of tax reward for having a healthy lifestyle. But, these are preventative strategies for staying healthy, living longer, and having a better quality of life. The government, and Americans in general, don't usually see this bigger picture. People only want what's best for right now -- let's sit on the couch and watch the Real Housewives instead of taking a walk this evening. It's like there's no self-control anymore. We have the "I want, I deserve" mentality. Which if fine...but then the consequences is an overworked, fatter society of people dying from COPD.
Christina Shapiro March 24, 2011 at 01:11 PM
I agree Maranda, it's not just snacks and obesity, its a general way of life for Americans. We live in a society that thrives on immediate gratification and getting everything we want. Our kids are are rewarded for everything they do as opposed to allowing them to have failures and learn from them. We would rather watch TV than play outside with our kids and even that has become something that we can get whatever we want whenever we want. With programs like On Demand and TV viewing on the internet, you can watch any program whenever you want. We need to find a healthy balance with everything in life and bring back the values that were important a few decades ago. By the way, I also agree with some form of tax credit for leading a healthy lifestyle, but I'm not really sure how that would be enforced or measured.
Williams June 30, 2012 at 06:35 PM
We recently bought our daughter a popsicle maker at the local mall. It was a simple design--pour juices into frozen molds to make the popsicle. In addition to the 6% state sales tax, we had to pay the additional 6% snack tax. Never minding the fact that the item was not actually a snack, we only ever use 100% fruit juice in it. I'm sure the state has no interest in the misapplication of the tax, because their real objective was met--they got their money. This tax is not about curbing obesity, it's about raising more tax revenues for an already bloated, run amok state government. Obesity is the convenient excuse that justifies the tax and convinces Marylanders that taking more of their money is a good thing. And just as is the case with other sin taxes and taxes designed to coerce behavior change, it has no real impact on the alleged problem.


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