AP English Language and Composition
21 May 2013
The phrase “You are what you eat” has been around for the past thirty years and still holds true today. Rewind to the 1970s and it is evident that the day where children played outside on the swings and went exploring in their backyards to uncover the sense of adventure and wonder that is only found in childhood are long gone. Now we have reached in the days where it is far more conventional to sit inside and spend one’s free hours in front of the computer monitor on Facebook learning about everyone else is doing instead of doing something productive ourselves. We are the generation of fast food frenzy and technological advancement that no previous generation could have ever even fathomed. We are the generation that waits for someone to do something for us instead of doing it on our own. We are the generation in which our population size, knowledge and business scope have all increased but in the midst of all of this, so have our waistlines. Obesity is a growing dilemma in the United States and yet, we have proved ourselves to be incapable of solving it. Clinical Obesity can be defined as those individuals having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 25 or more which is a category in which more than 50% of all adults in the United States are in as of today. (McMahan S). In the past thirty years, America’s obesity rate has more than doubled; it has reached 31.8%, which is roughly one-third of the United States population. Obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions making it a national, public health threat to children, adolescents, and even adults. Among the highest of the obesity rates, and perhaps the most disheartening, is the obesity rate for children ages six to eleven, which has increased from 6.5% in 1990 to 18.8% in 2010, more than tripling the obese rate for children in the last twenty years. However, the age range that is most at risk for obesity is adults aged 18-29, in which the obesity rate has increased from 5% to 12.9% in 2010. (McMahan S.) Obesity related diseases kill an estimated 375,000 per year, and is succeeded only by deaths due to cancer. It costs the federal government up to 117 billion in tax payer’s dollars for healthcare and this number is estimated to only increase and reach staggering figures in the next ten years. (Zenong Yin, Etal) The strong prevalence of obesity in the United States should be counteracted through the taxation of high fat and high sugar food and beverages because it would reduce the obesity rate, raise tax revenue, and reduce the amount of medical expenditures and obesity linked diseases.
In a perfect world, we would hope that the encouragement of healthy diet and exercise would be enough to convince people of its importance but it hasn’t worked. At the same time the “Eat your fruits and vegetables” and “Get out and play an hour a day” commercials are playing on the television, the target audience is most likely walking into the pantry, getting their fourth helping of the ever so popular saturated fat-filled Dorito chips and not even listening to the commercial that could possibly save their life. The fact of the matter is that although we can try and promote healthy diet and exercise all we want, whether that is plastering it across billboards or putting it on the radio or television commercials, it isn’t going to be enough. Obesity is an issue that is far wider than the scope of any one individual, television program or radio station; it is a nationwide problem and should therefore be dealt with by the federal government.
People need to understand that obesity isn’t just a fashion faux pas or skin tight clothing repellant, it is a nationwide killer. By taxing high fat and high sugar food and beverages, we would alleviate some of this “killer’s harmful damage” to our country and reduce the obesity rate. We should be allowed to tax high fat and high sugar food and beverages on the same premises we tax