Ethan A. Huff
November 23, 2011
Junk food consumption is partly responsible for the rampant disease and obesity epidemic that plagues the US. But rather than focus on ways to rid the food supply of the specific toxic additives and processes that promote disease and obesity, a Harvard Medical School (HMS) doctor is urging the federal government to treat “junk food” like it does pollution, and implement a “cap and trade” type tax system on foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt.
Dr. Kristina Lewis from the HMS Department of Population and her colleague Meredith Rosenthal recently published a report inThe New England Journal of Medicinethat suggests implementing “fat taxes” on foods that they consider to be unhealthy. The idea behind the plan is to improve public health, increase productivity, and ultimately reduce health care costs.
But the shortsighted nature of the plan — not to mention its potential assault on food freedom of choice — is a recipe for disaster. The duo makes no differentiation between types of “fat,” for instance, and how certain fats are health-promoting while others are health-destroying. The same goes for sugar which, in an unprocessed, raw, and complete form can actually provide health benefits, as opposed to refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
The fat content found in pasture-based, raw milk, for instance, is far different from the denatured fat found in a homogenized, pasteurized milk product. And the same goes for foods like coconut oil or pasture-based raw butter, both of which are high in “fat,” but a good kind of fat that actually promotes heart health and proper weight management.
These are just a few examples of the many problems posed by this type of overly-simplistic “junk food” tax plan. And when questioned about why they would tax entire foods rather than individual food additives found to be harmful or toxic, Lewis and Rosenthal alleged that such an idea would be unfair to certain businesses, as a fried chicken vendor would have to make more changes than a fresh sandwich and wrap vendor.
But is that not the whole point of implementing a food tax, to penalize those that are using health-destroying ingredients in their products and reward those that are using health-promoting ingredients? And who will ultimately differentiate between intricacies like raw, pink Himalayan sea salt, which is filled with nutritive trace minerals, and conventional table salt, which can be highly toxic to the body?
Maybe the government should leave food alone until it actually learns how food works in the first place.
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This article was posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 3:46 am