The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
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
The report, which I saw in draft form, argues that with the
The potential benefits from reducing obesity are, well, enormous. Obesity is linked to over twenty chronic diseases, from diabetes to colon cancer, and spending on obesity-related healthcare adds up to $200 billion in the
Whether the tax could achieve these goals, however, hinges on a number of design choices. For example, would the tax be levied on producers or consumers? Would restaurants be exempt? If not, how would we determine the nutritional value of every item on every restaurant’s menu? Additionally, a successful tax would have to balance the goals of achieving health benefits and raising revenue; the more that people switch to healthier foods, the less revenue the tax collects. And as everyone knows, the worst way to combat obesity is trying to have your cake and eat it too.
The report comes out Monday; a panel of experts will discuss it and related issues in Ousting Obesity: Strategies from the Tobacco Wars, starting at noon on Tuesday, July 28, at the Urban Institute. Click here to RSVP to attend in person or to listen to the webcast.
I’ll have more to say about the report once I’ve seen the final version. Stay tuned.
Posts and comments are solely the opinion of the author and not that of the Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute, or Brookings Institution.