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Old 06-12-2006, 01:48 PM   #1
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the Fat Tax

[q]Doctors call for 'fat tax' on Coca-Cola and Pepsi
from Barry Wigmore in New York
07:32am 12th June 2006

Doctors will this week declare war on America's soft drinks industry by calling for a 'fat tax' to combat the nation's obesity epidemic.

Delegates at the powerful American Medical Association's annual conference will demand a levy on the sweeteners put in sugary drinks to pay for a massive public health education campaign.

They will also call for the amount of salt added to burgers and processed foods to be halved.

The moves come as U.S. doctors - like their British counterparts - are becoming increasingly alarmed at the growing number of deaths linked to obesity.

The resolution will put doctors on a collision course with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, plus the likes of McDonald's and Burger King.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/liv...0&in_a_source=

[/q]





i'm all for it. if you're going to tax the hell out of alcohol and cigarettes (and i say this as a non-smoker), let's go after what *really* endangers our health: fast food.

we get so worked up over alcohol, tobacco, and (gasp!) marijuana, yet we fail to realize that the harm these things do to the population, while not to be ignored, pale in compairson to the harm that is done by things like fast food and unhealthy, car-based lifestyles.

i feel as if we get so worked up over things that have been labled "vices" that we ignore the far greater dangers present in our day-to-day activities. sure, it's great that you want your teen to abstain from sex, but does he always wear a seatbelt? it's great that you quit smoking, but you'd be even better off if you'd lived in a community with sidewalks so you could walk down to the store and buy a gallon of milk instead of climbing into that gigantic SUV and driving through your vast exurban community.

focus on real dangers, not just the ones that have the whiff of sin and vice.
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:00 PM   #2
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If you want to do this, I'm not sure that selectively targetting Coke and Pepsi is really "fair" - why not go after cookies and chips? Chocolate bars? Ice cream? Pies?

I don't drink anything with sugar in it and haven't for years so as far as I'm concerned, they can go ahead and tax the living shit out of these products but if you really want to combat this problem, merely taxing soft drinks while ignoring everything else will probably make little difference longterm.
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
If you want to do this, I'm not sure that selectively targetting Coke and Pepsi is really "fair" - why not go after cookies and chips? Chocolate bars? Ice cream? Pies?

I don't drink anything with sugar in it and haven't for years so as far as I'm concerned, they can go ahead and tax the living shit out of these products but if you really want to combat this problem, merely taxing soft drinks while ignoring everything else will probably make little difference longterm.


perhaps it's simply a jumping off point?

i think we should tax anything with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:07 PM   #4
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Why not tax anything that has harmful side affects?
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
i think we should tax anything with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
There's no reason that should even be on the market.

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Old 06-12-2006, 02:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Why not tax anything that has harmful side affects?


why tax some things, but not others?

my drinking 5 beers on a friday night is going to have far less of a detrimental effect on my long-term health than if i ate 5 Big Macs on a Friday night.

the difference: one makes you intoxicated, the other just puts you in a food coma.
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

perhaps it's simply a jumping off point?
Yeah, I hope you're correct. As a Coca-Cola addict and stockholder, my biased opinion is that it is a bit unfair to target Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. A lot of children's juices have just as much sugar as sodas. I definitely support a blanket tax on any beverage that contains more than a certain amount/percent/whatever of sugar (or whatever is the scientific term for what's bad for you).

One of the main reasons why I drink so much soda is that it's so convenient. I go to the cafe and I can get a 12 oz can of fruit juice or tomato juice for $.75 - $1.19, or I can get 32 oz of soda for $.94 (and if I bring my refillable school cup, only $.40). When we're stressed at work and just want some calories or something to drink because it tastes good, we always go for the soda because it's way cheaper. Even as someone who "benefits" (by enjoyment) the cheapness of soda, higher prices would definitely give me more of an incentive to buy something else that would then be the same price, but much healthier. Of course, I should just be doing that anyway
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:37 PM   #8
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Will the cost of Diet Coke go up?

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Old 06-12-2006, 02:50 PM   #9
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It's a sad state of affairs when placing tax on an unhealthy product is the best way to encourage people to be healthy. It just shows how much money really controls us as a society.

I also think there is a paradox in this country - we are taught that we need to be more accepting of obese people and yet we are also taught that obesity is very harmful. How do we be accepting of obese people when obesity is such a killer?
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
why tax some things, but not others?

my drinking 5 beers on a friday night is going to have far less of a detrimental effect on my long-term health than if i ate 5 Big Macs on a Friday night.

the difference: one makes you intoxicated, the other just puts you in a food coma.
We could take these comparissons on forever. The drinker of the five beers could get behind the wheel of a car and.....


There should be some rational connection between the tax and the use of the tax revenue.

We also have no check and balance to prevent taxation of groups based on some unpopular characteristic.

Otherwise, all you end up with is a new money grab by the government that affects a group that is, in essense, disenfranchised based on the structuring of the tax system.
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail


I also think there is a paradox in this country - we are taught that we need to be more accepting of obese people and yet we are also taught that obesity is very harmful. How do we be accepting of obese people when obesity is such a killer?
Well, the obese people aren't killing *you*!
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:06 PM   #12
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No they aren't killing me, but they are killing my health insurance premiums.
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by WildHoneyAlways
Will the cost of Diet Coke go up?


Please, no!



I think this is a great idea, personally. But why stop at drinks? I'd love for there to be an additional tax on McDonald's and Burger King, et al as well.
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
If you want to do this, I'm not sure that selectively targetting Coke and Pepsi is really "fair" - why not go after cookies and chips? Chocolate bars? Ice cream? Pies?
If I read the article right, the levy would be on the sweeteners as ingredients and therefore add to production cost as a manufacturing tax, not a consumption tax so would cut across all those products.

If the scientific evidence against HFCS and hydrogenated oils is as damning as it is for nicotine (which I suspect it is) then a levy to pay for nutritional education programs makes good sense.
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail
I also think there is a paradox in this country - we are taught that we need to be more accepting of obese people and yet we are also taught that obesity is very harmful. How do we be accepting of obese people when obesity is such a killer?
It is far easier to blame the cheeseburger, fries and coke.
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


It is far easier to blame the cheeseburger, fries and coke.


but we blame the alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

can we not make a case about the addictive qualities of carbohydrates and fats as being comparable to the addictive qualities of nicotine?

i suppose what i'm really getting at is some measure of consistency. there's no question that tobacco kills people. there's also no question that Big Macs kill people. yet, one is seen as an unqualified evil (smoke free towns, etc.) and the other is served to children by a clown. one is taxed, heavily, the other is celebrated as some sort of quntissential piece of Americana.

my guess is that one product has the weight of sinfulness on it due to it's mind-altering qualities, whereas the other does not.

this country seems to have a big problem with pleasure.
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:49 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail
I also think there is a paradox in this country - we are taught that we need to be more accepting of obese people and yet we are also taught that obesity is very harmful. How do we be accepting of obese people when obesity is such a killer?


this is very interesting.

as someone who was once very fit, then gained a bunch of weight, and has now lost most of it, i actually find myself *less* sympathetic to obesity than i once was. i fully understand that humans are weak, and that some people really can work out very hard and eat right and due to circumstance beyond their control they cannot lose weight (there's a woman in my office like this -- delightful girl, works out all the time, is still quite heavy), but having actually done what it takes to drop 20+ pounds, you really do see that it often is a matter of self-control and discipline. it really is as simple as "eat less, move more."

i am fully sympathetic to the idea that some people lead very busy lives with work and children and that the cost of modern life requires two incomes and mom (or dad) simply doesn't have the time to shop each and every day and then prepare that night's meal out of 100% fresh ingredients. i am also aware that the overall quality of food as diminished (as supply has gone up) due to the addition of things like high fructose corn syrup into every known product (that stuff is in freaking spaghetti sauce).

so, often, we're damned no matter what we do.

but at some point, it's kind of like, come on. i can understand an extra 20 lbs, but being obese, needing to lose 75lbs or more, it does seem like a little bit of insanity. it's like, "stop eating or you'll die!"

perhaps we need "shock videos" of some sort like we used to get with smoking in school -- we learned all about the horrors of lung cancer, why not learn all about the horrors of heart disease and diabetes?
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Old 06-12-2006, 04:00 PM   #18
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They'll never levy a tax on Diet Coke or any diet drinks because a) they have no sugar and no calories so it makes no sense and b) you'd be punishing diabetics.
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Old 06-12-2006, 04:04 PM   #19
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I was at the airport over the weekend and as I was walking through the roped off queue towards security, an overweight woman with her child cut in line in front of me by ducking under the rope. I made a gesture like "wtf?" and she turned around and said "You can go in front of me, I just didn't want to walk all that way." I had to bite my lip from saying, "No wonder you're so fat," not to mention the excellent example it set for the kid for breaking in line. Often one of the first things you read about how to lose weight is things like getting up and moving more, park further away at the grocery store so you can get a bit of exercise. Walk the length of the entire damn queue at the airport unless you're carrying heavy luggage (she wasn't).

When my officemate returned from Paris last week, one of the first things she said was that she did not see any overweight people in Paris. She commented that she also didn't see anyone as skinny as you might see in the US--just that everyone seemed to have normal weight, no extremes.

Anyway, I basically agree with everything Irvine's said. It's a growing irritation for me. A flight I was on recently was delayed 30 minutes while they tried to work out what to do with a guy who was too heavy to sit in one seat. They actually had to ask a couple who had gotten on through standby to leave the plane so this guy could have 2 seats. The whole thing happened right across from me so I saw exactly what happened.

I realize there are legitimate health reasons that don't have to do with overeating or bad eating that contribute to some people's weight problems but the fact is that the US is a fat country and it's absurd that I can't smoke pot legally because it's supposedly bad for my "health" while others can live on a diet of donuts, Coke and MacDonald's, and get fatter and fatter and die young of heart disease and any number of other illnesses related to obesity.
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Old 06-12-2006, 04:15 PM   #20
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I agree, joyfulgirl and Irvine. In Africa, the only obesity I saw was actually kids with bellies distended from malnutrition.

People have always given me surprised looks when I say I've never owned a car. I just moved back to my old neighborhood so now it takes me 35 minutes to bike home, or about an hour to walk, but honestly I've gotten so used to walking and biking that I've come to enjoy it. I don't care if people argue that it takes too much time. I get from point A to point B AND get in a workout at the same time. If I drove, I'd still have to schedule 20mins - 1 hr each day for a workout.

One of my really good friends it putting herself at severe risk for many health problems. Her parents are both very obese. She has gained 50 pounds in the past few years (she has a very small frame, so that's a lot). She never exercises, she hates being outdoors for anything. All she eats is fast food or takeout. She already has high cholesterol. To top it off, she's constantly switching her anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds, so she's prone to weight gains and mood swings. I feel like I'm watching her kill herself, the same way I've watched anorexic friends kill themselves.
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