Thursday, February 10, 2011


Listening to the morning radio show this morning, I was a bit disturbed by what I heard. The topic this morning was raising taxes on drinks and foods that contain excess amounts of fat and sugar. The radio hosts seemed to be of the opinion that such a tax would be detrimental to the economy of our state, and that the labels we see now that publicize the caloric and sugar content of foods are likewise a detriment to people's desire to buy them.

What really upset me was the idea that, if those labels were not there, that these people would be buying those foods anyway. A similar trend happened when gas prices shot up: SUV sales plummeted, but rose sharply once the gas prices dropped again. It's like Americans didn't learn anything from the fuel "shortage" and continued to do the same things that got us there in the first place. The radio hosts mentioned that the cause of obesity is a discrepancy between caloric intake and output, but failed to realize that their argument for the rights of citizens is equally responsible.

It's like the health care law: a common-sense reform that benefits people for little financial impact to help better their quality of life, and yet is attacked as being an infringement on our rights. Yes, it is our right to eat and drink mass amounts of sugar and calories, but it is also our responsibility to take care of ourselves. The issue comes when the health risks catch up to the individual and then the nation is strained with trying to cover their costs.

The soda tax, it was also said, would lead to further taxes on everything else with excess fat and sugar. Is that really a bad thing? Why don't store owners stock healthier local options? Why don't people opt for healthier, cheaper drinks like water and juice? I feel this tax would be a good way to raise revenue, provided it's not too high, and will help curb the consumption of these products.

People need to be aware of the side-effects of excess sugar and fats on the body, but also the impact of the chemicals that are placed in foods, particularly those that are considered "low-fat" and "diet." As a person who spends a lot of time reading food labels, I can tell you that the chemical contents in our foods are rather disturbing. And yet, there is no discussion of how diet sodas have even worse side effects than the regular ones. Education is the next logical step.

I know that each person has the right to kill themselves with sugar, fat, and other substances. But we shouldn't have to pay to keep them alive when they finally feel the effects of their choices. Each person can choose to eat the 1,000 calorie burger, suck down the 400 calorie soft drink, or pick up the 500 calorie doughnut for breakfast. But the rest of us shouldn't have to suffer for their bad decisions. I say, keep the labels that educate people on the contents of their food, and let people make an informed choice.

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