Tax Junk Food and Subsidize Healthy Alternatives

Yesterday I stumbled upon an opinions article by Mark Bittman in the New York Times Sunday Review proposing a simple solution to America’s obesity crisis: tax junk food and subsidize fresh produce.  Bittman compares the need to discourage Americans from eating junk food to the anti-smoking campaigns introduced in the 1990s, and emphasizes that eating a balanced diet is crucial for a healthy lifestyle.

He writes:

“The food industry appears incapable of marketing healthier foods. And whether its leaders are confused or just stalling doesn’t matter, because the fixes are not really their problem. Their mission is not public health but profit, so they’ll continue to sell the health-damaging food that’s most profitable, until the market or another force skews things otherwise. That ‘other force’ should be the federal government, fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good and establishing a bold national fix.”

Bittman cites examples of other countries implementing programs meant to promote healthful foods, including Denmark’s saturated fat tax and Brazil’s Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) plan, which “features subsidized produce markets and state-sponsored low-cost restaurants.”

The United States government indirectly subsidizes junk food through national corn and soy bean subsidy programs, which help keep down the cost of highly processed food items containing corn and soy. Subsidization is clearly possible: all we have to do is switch the focus of subsidy programs to more beneficial foods, making it easier for everyone to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies.

Bittman’s argument is simple, and it makes sense. Now the only thing to do is put the plan into action.

Related Stories:

Can Breastfeeding Prevent Childhood Obesity?

Wal-Mart Plans to Promote Healthy Food

America’s Subsidy Garden

Photo credit: PamelaVWhite

134 comments

William C
William C1 years ago

Thank you.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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a             y m.
g d c6 years ago

hmmm

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a             y m.
g d c6 years ago

hmmm

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Sarah M.
Sarah M7 years ago

Yes please!

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John Turner
John Turner7 years ago

We need to get Mark Bittman's plan into action!

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Sisilie B.
Sisilie B7 years ago

I so wish that this could be a reality

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Abbe A.
Azaima A7 years ago

common sense

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Ann G.
Ann G7 years ago

Would somebody please make a petition? I'd love to sign one.

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K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

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