I re-joined Weight Watchers this weekend (bye-bye baby weight!). At the meeting there was a 18-year-old girl who was a returning lifetime member trying to lose the 50lbs that has found her over the past three years. The first time she joined she was just 11 years old. This post isn’t about Weight Watchers or whether or not I agree with young children doing a structured diet program, I’m looking into WHY an 11-year-old would need such a program.
The Rise of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is no secret. It is completely plaguing the developed world. There has been a lot of discussion in our local news about whether or not a ‘junk food’ or ‘fat’ tax is the answer to helping this growing problem. The logic being that parents will be forced to make different, ideally smarter, food choices for their family’s diet. Foods singled out are pop (soda), oils, cheeses, candy, chips, basically anything is highly processed or saturated fat-laden.
Do we really need this? Isn’t a tax just a way for the government to capitalize on our, albeit bad, food choices? Shouldn’t we be forcing more education instead of punishing?
Thoughts on a Junk Food Tax
These are the types of questions that are running through my head. Instead of punishing a family’s food choices, why don’t we start at the very beginning and encourage affordable healthy eating habits in elementary school? Start the education when they’re young and don’t stop! If we drill it into our kids heads and explain the choices they have to make there could be an entire generational change. I know things in this area are improving but we’re not there yet. We need to educate our kids as well as their families. Some families may be reluctant to initiate the changes required or ask the required questions. If help was available in the form of things like healthy family nights, held at your child’s school, where a nutritionist could come in and do presentations aimed at the specific demographic, the framework for better decision making could be laid down.
Life is about choices, junk food included. We need to teach our children how to make good food choices through our knowledge and counter balance the not-so-good ones. We need to get this junk food tax idea out of our minds. It won’t work, mark my words.
What are your thoughts on a junk food tax?
Catherine is a first time momma to a rambunctious toddler. When she isn’t soaking up all that motherhood has to offer, you can find her blogging over at Plunged in Debt where she chronicles her and her husbands journey out of debt. You can also follow her on Twitter.
I don’t think it’s a price problem or a lack of education, this is a cultural epidemic. The diet in the USA is driven by an attitude of over-indulgence and instant gratification. Food isn’t eaten for the reasons it should be eaten: fuel, health, pleasure, connection. It’s just a thing that people do. It’s sad and I wish I wasn’t typing this from my phone so I could really go into it. I’ve never had a weight problem because I’ve never had a food problem. I was raised on raw foods, soda was a treat for Saturday night movies only, and sports/exercise where a normal part of everyday life not a regimented obligation. North American food culture makes me sad. Tax and education won’t fix anything we need to change our relationship with food.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I grew up in a home with home cooked meals and being forced outside to play everyday and I can count on one hand the amount of times I ate stuff like McDonalds before I moved out…seriously. I saw two kids outside playing the other day chasing each other with sticks, and I couldn’t help but think I hadn’t seen this in a LONGGGG time. Kids actually outside, using their imagination to play. Sad.
STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) says
I do not think it is an either/or proposition. Attack this problem from all directions because this is just killing our children and our economy. The actuarial life expectancy of the new generations may actually be going down. Another thing is that many schools are reducing physical education or eliminating it entirely. A recent study stated that children perform academically better when they have physical activity. We are just not on the right track here.