UVa Researchers Say A Fat Tax May Curb Obesity

By: Stephanie Satchell Email
By: Stephanie Satchell Email

July 30, 2009

Studies continue to show that waistlines in America are still expanding. Now, leaders in Washington are looking at the idea of creating a "fat tax." Local researchers say, that may not be a bad idea.

University of Virginia researchers say implementing a Fat Tax could be effective, but it all depends on how much each fatty item is taxed. Fatty foods like potato chips, french fries, and candy bars are only a few of the items that would be impacted by this tax.

UVA researchers say obesity in the United States is costing the country billions of dollars. But that's not what's really concerning health care providers.

"The most important thing is that obesity is killing us. There are 100,000 people a year dying, and it's getting worse," says Dr. Arthur Garson, Jr.

Some believe the new study, which is modeled after a former study attempting to stop people from smoking, could work. Dr. Garson looked at labeling and advertisements, and included a Fat Tax for all the fatty items.

But why implement a tax? Shouldn't the health risks alone be enough?

"What we know from the World Health Organization, is that in the U.S. and around the world, a tax is the single most effective way to stop smoking," explains Dr. Garson.

Although researchers say other methods may work, raising the tax on unhealthy foods could have waistbands shrinking across the country.

Dr. Garson says 33% of what Americans eat is junk food. If you tax that amount, the government could end up raising more than $500 billion in the next ten years. That money would be used to curb the rise in obesity or go towards health care reform.

UVa even has their own version of the tax. Vending machines across grounds offer a much higher tax on fatty items, which he says has helped the University raise a few thousand dollars.

Do you think a Fat Tax is a good idea? We welcome your comments.

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