Over the past several months, Senate leaders have been contemplating imposing an obesity tax on non-diet sugary drinks in an effort to help pay for a renovation of the country’s health care system and lower consumption of a product presumed to be a crucial contributor to obesity in the U.S. Congressional estimates state that a tax of 3 cents per 12-ounce drink could potentially raise up to $50 billion over 10 years.
Although I advocate eventually instituting a system of universal health care and would be willing to sacrifice some of my own privileges and earnings to achieve such, this sort of minutia is not the proper way to jumpstart reform. Not everyone who buys Red Bull and Sunny D is obese. Why penalize them?
I don’t personally drink sugary sodas. I’ve been terrified of McDonald’s ever since they made us watch Supersize Me in my 8th grade health class. I’m a vegetarian. Yada yada yada. Who cares? It’s my choice, just as it is every other citizen’s choice to eat a heaping slab of meatloaf cake (yes, it’s real) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And why should I care? This country was founded upon the ability of its citizens to make their own choices. The choice to gorge themselves with Cheetos, Fritos and Doritos. And, yes, the choice for companies to sell products they know aren’t healthy.
So hurry up, take away Mickey D’s Dollar Menu. Down with buy-one-scoop-get-one-free at UDF. Spike up the prices of those fruity daiquiris at restaurants. They’re loaded with calories, you know. Because, sheesh, what’s that word — restraint — good for anyway?!
Go check out thisiswhyyourefat.com. Be forewarned: You’ll experience one of two marked reactions. You’ll want to vomit from the grotesqueness of the “food” shown, or you’ll get an uncanny craving for a scoop of candied bacon ice cream (ew!) or a “McNuggetini,” an alcoholic milkshake garnished with barbeque sauce and chicken nuggets.
Either way, the opportunity for us to make ourselves obese is ubiquitous. It’s a fact: People love foods and drinks that are unhealthy, so the market is behemoth. How, then, will taxing such a segregated portion of typical American cuisine be substantial in contributing to create a less rotund population? Sugary drinks are just a piece of the puzzle. Not to mention all of the health controversy surrounding diet drinks, as well!
Yes, obesity is unhealthy. But where do we draw the line? Perhaps more awareness regarding healthy eating habits in coordination with laws requiring all products and restaurants to post nutritional information would be more helpful. If we know how to interpret what we’re eating, we can monitor our eating habits more proficiently.
‘Til then, be sure to order a diet soda along with your burger and fries. Because we’re watching our waistlines, right?