A few weeks back, I discussed proposals to reduce obesity by taxing junk food. I argued that such a tax could encourage healthier eating but would be difficult to design and would hit low-income families the hardest. Now a new report by the University of Virginia’s Carolyn Engelhard and Arthur Garson and the Urban Institute’s Stan Dorn addresses some of these issues.
One proposal to help finance health reform would tax fast food, salty snacks, and/or sugary drinks like soda. While critics see government meddling in citizens’ private lives, supporters of a “junk food” tax say such a levy could help finance expanded insurance coverage as well as lower health care costs by inducing people to switch to healthier diets. Taxpayers pay much of the expense of obesity-related disease through Medicare and Medicaid.