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Walk down the aisles of a local grocery store. The outer aisles are filled with healthy food choices, and attached are the hefty price tags. Walk down the inner aisles of a grocery store, and shoppers will find foods filled with fat and calories for half the price. The government continues to tell the general population how little inflation there is, but healthy foods are twice as expensive as the unhealthy foods. Raising the tax on junk food will cause thousands of Americans do not put food on the table for their families.
The high tax of unhealthy food items will have a negative, ineffective result on society.
When speaking of America, unhealthy food follows. America is known for indulging on calorie-filled items such as cheeseburgers, fries, and milkshakes of any flavor. Two-thirds of adult Americans are too heavy or obese. Multiple health issues such as diabetes, gout and tooth decay result from unclean eating. The result of these health issues does not directly correlate to the person who made the poor choice, because in some cases it is not their fault.
The blame can directly go to the price of food and the tax on them. In assessing these kinds of taxes, it’s critical to understand the consumption choices people have available. Many organizations have tried to make unclean eating seem bad, but individuals eat junk food not just because they like it, but also because of a mixture of eating habits, accessibility of stores, preparation skills, and time pressures.
Even when consumers in lower-income neighborhoods want to buy healthier foods, their options are limited. Many Americans live in areas known as “food deserts”, which means that the only food available to them is unhealthy choices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can easily define a “food desert” as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.” (Thomas) The USDA estimates that 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts. It’s no wonder Americans choose foods that are unhealthy, rather than healthy items such as garden vegetables or protein. Healthier foods have a significantly lower shelf life than junk items, which make them less accessible to families who cannot buy food all the time. Taxing junk food on these items will cause families to spend way more money that could be spent on other necessary items.
On the contrary, places like Mexico and Hungary have enforced these high junk food taxes, and they seem to be working. These countries decided to put such high taxes on these nonessential foods because it had become the main component of people’s diet. In 2011, Hungary put a 4-cent tax on packaged foods and drinks that contain high levels of sugar and salt in certain product categories, including soft drinks, candy, and other unhealthy items. (Belluz) In 2013, Mexico enforced the tax on all junk food items such as cereal, candy, chips, etc. (Belluz) The tax rule is as followed: any food that exceeds 275 calories per 100 grams is taxed. Since Mexico has enforced this high tax, 7% less junk food has been purchased. Out of the whole general population, lower-income families were the group that was most affected by the taxing. These countries are making the tax work, but will the general population thrive as a whole, or will it only be the few that survive?
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