This house would put a “fat tax” on fast food.
There are countless people; defined as obese or overweight in our world today.Should we impose a tax on unhealthy fast food to deter people from masticating it frivolously? Would it be an all-encompassing policy to solve our obesity problem once and for all? Discuss.
Will a tax on fast food reduce the number of people who eat it?
Fast food is cheaper than all other foods; making it expensive might deprive the poorest of us of all kinds of food. Also the fast-food industry already bilks people out of cash by selling acquired taste, meals you don't have to wait for and advertising(associating fast food joints with family,friends,lovers,toys,kids and enjoyment. A tax may not push people away from eating fast food as they/we generally don't have a taste for the healthier option.Hypothetically,even if the price difference were taken away; people might still opt for wolfing down a big Mac as that's what they/we have developed a taste for.
So, would a tax be effective?
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Taxes are already higher on "luxuries" than "essentials", and even moreso on those luxuries which are actively harmful to health: specifically cigarettes and alcohol.
Fast food is a luxury and not an essential. Eating too much of it is bad for the health. As we already have a precedent for substances which fit this description, there is no reason not to follow that precedent.
Food is essential to human life while other heavily taxed products such as cigarettes and alcohol are not. Fast food is a loose definition for a group of foods, some of which are unhealthy and some of which are not. There are lots of different ways in which food can be unhealthy, with varying amounts of fat, salt and harmful chemicals, so where does one draw the line between unhealthy 'fast' food and healthy food?
Nobody has to smoke to stay alive, and it's not part of a balanced diet. Fast food, eaten in moderation doesn't have to be a health risk.
Obesity is a huge drain on a nationalised health service.
Those more likely to use the health service should contribute more towards it. As eating fast food in large quantities is more likely to require medical attention, and as Britain has a health service paid for by taxes, not services rendered, taxes on activities which are more likely to require medical attention are justified.
Obese people already pay taxes in various ways, they should not have to pay again, when it's likely that the money from a fast food tax would probably go to fund something else that doesn't affect them.
A food tax will not be effective as fastfood chains in Asian countries tend be more expensive than the local street vendor or khoka alternative
And yet the fast food industry here is booming; because fast-food means so much more than simply 'cheaper' food on the quick fry. Fast food is associated with freedom, family,friends,Hollywood/Bollywood, emancipation and 'junk food tastes so good because it's bad for you"-[[Affirmation-Savage Garden]]
Fast food also costs more than home cooked meals(Especially those made with minimal fat; as oil(including cooking oil) prices are soaring) .
So price is not the main/only factor driving people to drive-through-s and taking McDonaldization in developing countries as a practical real-life present-day example; imposing a fat tax will not stop people from eating junk.
Furthermore; what can be effective is pressuring fast-food companies to cook healthier meals.Such as adding greens to every meal; using coconut oil to fry food and olive oil as a salad dressing. etc. Also the Jamie Oliver approach; improving food standards the world over.[[http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/]]
Even home-cooked meals are generally not very healthy; in fact since all eat-outs undergo regular checks by Food inspectors; they make cleaner food than in most homes. So; to me the naked chef's food revolution is the answer. Imposing a tax will only increase fast food company profits as they will retain loyal customers.
The video game industry responded to health fad pressure by creating and selling more physically interactive games that require children/players to twiddle more than their thumbs; such as for example: Play-station/x-box variations of twister and dancing statues.
Many people refuse to eat healthier Italian/french/Greek food; because European restaurants tend to be more expensive than their less healthy fast-food-joint alternatives.
Chinese food; deep-fried in pork fat mostly by low-salaried exploited illegal immigrants is just as popular,cheap and unhealthy as food sold by All-American fast food chains.
If the price of unhealthy food were brought up to match or exceed
the price of healthier alternatives; people who 'only' eat fast food because it costs less will have a price incentive to go for healthier options.
Granted there are other factors that determine people's food choices and there is such a thing as brand/chain/junk loyalty; as mentioned on the right.
That being said/typed however, to completely rule out the existence of people who are stingy and primarily price-conscious is a bit presumptuous.
As for the other suggested strategies to obliterate obesity mentioned obstreperously on the right; This house never ruled those out. The motion is to debate and discuss whether a fat-tax is a good solution. Not whether it's the only solution.
Should be generalised
We should not just be picking on fast food as being unhealthy as they are not the only unhealthy foods. If we tax one set of unhealthy food and not others then people will simply switch. Instead there needs to be a comprehensive tax system that gives disincentives to all unhealthy food and incentives to get healthy alternatives. This would mean that not all foods in fast food resturants would be taxed and some you can buy from supermarkets to prepare yourself would be taxed. This would mean that the fast food resturants would be encouraged to find less unhealthy ways of preparing and making their food so that they could be cheaper. This means the tax would work in several ways. Both encouraging consumers to switch and encouraging the resturants themselves to change.
It enroaches on peoples right to choose
It would force those who are poorer away from fast food, not though education (The metaphorical Carrot) but through inability to afford, making it a comodity for the rich only (The stick). It is peoples right to choose what they eat, if they wish to eat fattier foods, then that is their decision, not that of some government busybody. It is just another example of the "nanny state" telling us how we should live.
Obesity itself should be taxed
Why tax the food, it's not the food itself that is the problem, it is the vast quantities chosen to be eaten by fat people. Instead of putting a tax on unhealthy food, which healthy people can enjoy, tax should be raised on those who have over a certain percentage bodyfat. This would incentivise people to lose weight. Taxing food is akin to a nanny state and people need to take responsibility for their own actions.
What do you think?