Sin Taxes on Junk Food Essay

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Every year Americans spend hundreds of billions of dollars on junk food. Junk food is so termed because it is high in sugar and fat and is low in other nutrients. American obesity, which afflicts about one in three people, reflects this phenomenal consumption level. The problem is only getting worse (“Number of Overweight Children and Adolescents is Rising” 6). The rising obesity rate leaves politicians and health care officials alike scrambling for a solution to reverse the trend. Some propose that this be accomplished through taxation of the principle culprit.
However, higher taxes should not be imposed on junk food to encourage healthy eating.
The first question that springs to mind is how to define junk food (“What is Junk Food
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The low-level drive of desire through hunger usually overcomes abstract principles of financial expediency because obesity is not merely a lack of willpower (Donato 66).
For example, consider a man who has a long, stressful day at work. As he drives home, he passes a convenience store and promptly remembers that his favorite kinds of doughnuts are there. He knows they are expensive, but his difficult day makes him feel like he deserves the indulgence of eating a few. He stops and buys several doughnuts, along with a Coke to wash it all down.
Abraham Maslow, a leading psychologist from the beginning of the previous century, analyzed this sort of behavior, conducting important research on the hierarchy of human needs.
He argued that basic needs, such as hunger and thirst, receive greater priority than needs such as competition, belonging, and even safety (Huffman 412). Healthier eating habits ultimately must be formed by changes within an individual’s mentality, not external government strictures.
However, suppose for a moment that raising taxes did reduce junk food consumption.
The negative economic consequences would be massive. Decreased demand would lower production and workers would be laid off. Decreased production would also decrease demand for ingredients, thereby diminishing the raw food industry.
For example, PepsiCo, a leading snack and
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