A tax on junk food

Poor people are more likely to stay fat than rich people, a new study suggests.

Poor people are more likely to stay fat than rich people, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Harvard University were examining what they thought was an encouraging discovery, that obesity rates in teens were beginning to decline. However, when divided into subgroups, researchers found that, while overall obesity was declining, it seemed to be the upper classes that were benefitting more.

Basically, according to the study, families where the parents have higher education and therefore better paying jobs are losing weight while families of less educated parents with lower paying jobs were gaining it.

Researchers said it stands to reason that those families with higher education better understand the benefits of physical activity and are more likely to participate in such activities with their families.

It also stands to reason that those with more money can afford to spend on physical activity as well.

Think about it, things like gym memberships and sporting equipment cost money. Not everyone can afford to equip a hockey player for a season, not to mention all the fuel to drive around the country for games.

It also doesn’t help that poorer people don’t have access to healthy, affordable food either.

As the study pointed out, these people tend to live in low-income neighbourhoods where shopping options are limited.

Many of these people can’t afford to own or drive cars either, so they can’t get to the supermarkets located outside their neighbourhoods.

Instead, they shop at the convenience stores and fast-food restaurants in their immediate area that are full of junk food.

Also, let’s not forget that junk food tends to be cheaper than healthy food. When you take a look to examine it, it’s no surprise that poorer people aren’t very healthy – they can’t afford to be.

Maybe it’s time Canada started to seriously consider a junk food tax. A 2011 report from the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that the burden of obesity on the Canadian healthcare system is roughly between $4 and $7 billion a year.

Canada already imposes high taxes on tobacco products for the burden tobacco consumers put on healthcare, why shouldn’t we do the same for junk food?

Certainly, if junk food was no longer more affordable than healthy food, less people would be consuming it regularly.

Therefore, it makes sense that there would be a decline in obesity within the country.

And those who continued to use junk food and burden the healthcare system would be paying for at least part of it via the tax.

Of course, this solution would work best if healthy food was made cheaper in addition to making junk food more expensive.

While raising the price of junk food would make healthy food cheaper by comparison , it doesn’t really help make it more affordable for low-income families. However, it seems a step in the right direction.