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Parents Say No to New Taxes on Soda and Fast Food

How concerned are American parents about the fact that more than thirty percent of our nation’s children can now be classified as overweight or downright obese? Not much, if the results of a recent Adweek Media/Harris Poll are anything to go by.

Harris found that a mere one-third of families with children under the age of 18 said they would support a tax on soda and fast food, even when surveyors told them it would be part of a campaign to fight obesity. On the other hand, solid majorities of both moms and dads and those without children living at home said no way, no how to tacking any extra fees onto visits to Mickey D’s, no matter what the cause.

In as tax-averse a country as ours, it’s no surprise that most of us oppose any additional government levy of any sort. But what is something of a shock is that moms and dads, many of who are on the forefront of nutrition wars in places ranging from school cafeterias to supermarkets, would be equally as opposed to paying even an extra penny for a Triple Whopper with Cheese, KFC’s Double Down sandwich or 64 ounce extra large soft drink as everyone else.

This makes no sense, folks. If you are cheering Michelle Obama’s organic White House garden and her initiative to get children off the couch and moving so that they lose a few pounds, you can’t just turn around and say thumbs down to an action that would likely be even more effective at keeping our kids’ weight from tipping the chubby meter on a scale.

Taxes might not be fun, but they do work as an instrument of social policy. Remember how the rate of cigarette smokers plunged after excise taxes on the product became so high that, in some places, the cost of the pack more than doubled? This fact has been noted by numerous municipalities: Washington D.C.’s city council, for example, recently voted to add a six percent tax to the cost of sweetened soft drinks including diet soda and sports and energy drinks.

So what do you think? Do you think we could make a dent in childhood obesity rates by raising the price of a trip to the local fast food joint? Or do you believe this is simply a monetary grab by desperate state and municipal governments, eager to bring in more money in from at a time at a time of falling tax revenues, and they are simply seizing on our national obesity epidemic as an excuse to shake a few extra dollars out of our pockets?

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Photo: Kelly Hogaboom

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