Should Junk Food Help Pay for Health Care?


Congress is considering a ten percent "fat tax" on junk food to help pay for the expansion of health care coverage. But as the Economist points out, defining junk food is tricky. While sugary drinks, fries, and burgers might be lumped under this umbrella of fatty foods, they vary on the junky spectrum. Should it be based strictly on fat, calorie, or sugar content?

Others have suggested a more direct, though controversial, approach to the tax: charging people based on BMI or body fat content. One Economist reader had the following to say:

The common denominator among smokers is cigarettes, so we tax cigarettes. The common denominator among alcohol-abusers is alcoholic beverages, so we tax alcoholic beverages. The common denominator amongst obese people is body fat content (not sugary drinks), so we should tax body fat content.

Do you think spiking up junk food prices would make a big difference on eating habits and health? Or would taxing by weight be more effective?

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