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Pay more to be fat?

By Liza Peiffer
On August 29, 2009

Those extra pounds you packed on may be costing you more than your looks.  There is talk about a tax on fatty foods, similar to the tax on cigarettes, because of growing health care costs for obesity. CNN Money says, "Come 2015, it is estimated that 40% of American adults will be obese, which is more than double the rate 40 years ago."

So you make fatty foods cost a little more and American obesity declines? Yeah ok.  Fat America has obviously been a problem for a long time now…we know we're fat.  So the weight loss market in America is hot—it seems there is an infinite amount ofdiet products, weight loss reality shows, gym commercials, even healthy choice menus at fast food joints.  But wait, we're still fat.

Well then, it's logical that food must be the problem.  Fatty foods of course contribute to excess weight, but our problem is portion size, not to mention how often we go out to eat.  Both are an advertising dream.  I don't care if you're a Victoria's Secretmodel, nothing looks better on TV than food.  Plus, there are always those "get more pay less" deals at family restaurants.

§  T.G.I. Friday's endless lunch

§  Friendly's Create Your Own Meal (including a sundae)

§  Bargain fast food

Maybe the tax will cause the average obese shopper to choose low fat cheese, healthy cookies and fat free ice-cream.  Well if they eat it all in large portions (assuming they do this regularly), then great!  They've just consumed only 500 extra calories instead of 1,000. And that's not going to cause any weight loss whatsoever.  A tax on fatty foods may make people consume less of them or even less calories, but it will be too insignificant to appease the problem.

Marketing food is one of the easiest things to do because unlike tobacco, you need it to live.  The Urban Institute agrees that marketing is key, especially to children.  Their study says a tax alone would not be sufficient to reduce obesity rates, and there should be bans on advertising fattening foods to children and more explicit labeling on fattening foods.

The media tempts people with unhealthy foods daily.  Although ignoring these ads will help it won't solve our problem.  Until they learn to make lifestyle changes, the fat is here to stay.

Fun link: Worldometer, check out those obesity rates!



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