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May 30, 2011

$50 Fat Tax?

By Suzanne MacNevin - May 2011.

HEALTH - The state of Arizona is thinking of creating a $50 Fat Tax in an effort to discourage obesity. The annual $50 fine would be imposed on overweight Medicaid recipients who don't follow a strict health regime as set by their doctor.

Its a sign that governments are starting to get desperate to lower obesity rates in America. The costs of obesity to the US economy and health care system are starting to wrack up, and worse America has developed a horrible reputation for being "fat and lazy", a concept which hurts the USA's global reputation.

Governments, in an effort to save money, are looking to take desperate action. Ideas like income tax rebates for gym memberships, bicycles, exercise equipment are being batted around.

Other ideas like taxing fatty foods have also been promoted, but America's corrupt food industry keeps bribing the right officials to keep their products on the shelves untaxed. The idea of taxing or banning foods is argued to be counter to the idea of American freedom of choice.

ie. If Americans want to obese and eat fattening foods constantly, that is their choice.

However taxing Medicaid patients has a problem... its meant for poor families who are unable to pay for medical costs. Such a tax would effectively be "taxing poor fat people".

The program would also fine the parents of poor obese children. But parents of rich obese children wouldn't get taxed at all.

The total cost of Medicaid (both state and federal parts) is approx. $340 billion per year. Due to obesity levels and an aging population the costs are expected to go up 8% per year.

In exceptionally fat states, the cost is ballooning out of control. Especially since the American Recession has caused many more Americans to fall below the poverty line and recovery has been very slow.

However avoiding a $50 fat tax doesn't seem like much of an incentive does it?

I'd argue that overweight people spend WAY more on groceries per year anyway. Getting rid of unnecessary junk food alone would save a single person hundreds of dollars per year. For a family of 4 scrapping junk food (except for special days) could save a whole whack of money.

Don't believe me? Do a test.

Cut out junk food from your budget for a month. Including fast food when eating out. Calculate how much you saved. Multiply by 12. Even if you only spent $30 / month, that amounts to $360 per year.

$360 would buy a nice bicycle...

Its like when you quit smoking and suddenly realize you have lots of extra cash. No more "one pack per day" = a lot more cash in your pocket.

I argue therefore that people should never go on a diet and/or exercise just for the sake of a mere $50. Do it for yourself. Save yourself a whack load more money. Become a healthier, happier version of yourself.

Watch your love life / sex life improve too. You will be happier more often and less likely to get depressed. Over time you will realize that you were in a slump and were eating because you were sad.

Finding happiness in execise and eating well is more difficult, but it is there. It is just a matter of effort.

In Britain the government has been debating a fat tax for almost a decade now and the UK isn't even that overweight in comparison to the USA. A whole lot of football (soccer) fans in Britain and there is a stronger belief in walking or cycling to work.

Take myself. I don't own a car. I live in Camden (London, England) and 90% of what I need is walking distance from me. If I need something farther away I can bicycle there or take the Underground.

Of course not everyone lives in a location that they can travel to what they need so easily. But if you do, it just takes a few minutes to get to where you need to go. No need to drive. Walking an extra hour/day burns an average of 150 calories/day. Over the course of a month that is 1.28 lbs you've just lost (3,500 calories = 1 lb).

Lets say you walked 2 hours per day for a year. That is almost 31 lbs just from walking alone. Add jogging, weightlifting, yoga and other activities to your lifestyle and you will see faster results. ie. Weightlifting burns 700+ calories per hour (or 1.4 lbs per week, but you will also gain some muscle mass).

See Also:
Calories: Food Vs Exercise
Ab Exercises

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