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Essay: Taxing Fast Foods: Exploring Health, Wealth, and Death in America

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Food and health are two subjects that have been troubling the great nation of America since the inception of the Fast Food industry which happens to contribute to the nation’s economy. Therefore, this will be the main focus of this study as we go through various avenues, elements and variables that need to be considered when making this choice. This study will also be more of a personal reflection towards my view on the matter as an American citizen having seen the effects of Fast Food. Therefore, this is an analytical study using personal views to develop a well calibrated study that has step by step levels of understanding and research over time. The study will also apply statistical data to prove and support my thesis as well as my valid stand point. Making it interesting, the study will also offer a contradictory point of view with a strong stand off point against it as an extra means of providing meaningful arguments and support.

Thesis Statement: Health, wealth or death, these are the only options we have as human beings and it is well known that health and wealth are most important to all and sundry. Therefore, every individual should strive to live healthier and the government of US needs to bring health to the average community as well as those on the streets.

Tax on Unhealthy Foods

It is very interesting how the government has always promoted the health sector as well as making sure that all the foods consumed by the people in the United States is of high quality and is made in a respectable area. However, since when did unhealthy meals, foods and snacks that cause death become readily available in nearly every location and at extremely low prices? The government as a whole has greatly failed in making sure the society of the United States stays healthy at all times. Therefore, in this study, I am in support of the federal government increasing the taxes on Fast Food products all round. However, as much as this is the case I also do see some issues the government needs to look into before implementing the new tax hikes officially. The elements of contention will be discussed in a later section in this document.

Personal Stand and Support on Taxing Fast Foods

As pointed out above, I strongly support the government’s initiative of increasing taxes on Fast and Unhealthy foods. Some of the reasons I am in support of this new ideal project is because of the following:

• Lead people into healthy living

Having fast foods become expensive will in turn push people into healthy living where many people will now turn into healthier snacks and meals as those will not be taxed. Therefore, many people will begin living healthy one way or the other by substituting their previous meals with healthy ones (Hawkes, Corinna, p. 2410-2421).

• Reduce cases of death rates due to unhealthiness

It is very common in the United States to hear cases of deaths or illness being related to what people eat such as cardiac problems or clogging of blood vessels. If taxes are imposed on Fast Foods, many people will not risk wasting more money on meals that will only lead them to hospitals.

• It will move industries to make their snacks and Fast Food Meals as healthy and sanitary as possible.

As many people will still be very much dependent on Fast foods maybe due to family traditions such as “cheat days” or because of having too much work and no time to head into the kitchen, the industry will still be looming with a lot of economic potential. Therefore, as a goal of making sure the industries already in the markets do not lose out on their clients due to expensive products, they will be forced to develop healthy fast foods that are still enjoyable and cheaper (Sisnowski, Street & Merlin).

• Reduces the amounts spent by individuals and governments on medical bills

In the United States alone, out of every five deaths that take place, one is as a cause of unhealthy living, and if followed closely it is usually to one having a fast food daily lifestyle that bounds them to various illnesses till death creeps in. The government also spends millions and billions of dollars ($4 billion annually) in offering medical aid and care for various victims who are covered under the policies. The government also spends a lot of money on funding research avenues that aim at developing means of treating health related illness at the same time applying various apparatus (Weintraub, Arlene)

• Improves industriousness

Many people who are obese and unhealthy often end up becoming dependent on other people in the society who are working to make ends meet. It is also common to find that many of these unhealthy and obese victims usually have incredible talents that can build the economy as well as the society, however, they seem not to be able to do so because of their health conditions (Baker, Kathtyn…).

• It will promote local farmers

In light of the new taxation laws, the government will be forced lower the taxes on healthier food products such as fruits, vegetables and animal products. The government will also have to cut off any importation of food products that are readily available to promote local farmers to go back to their farms as they will be constant ready market for their produce.

Reason of Taxing Fast Foods

As we have seen above, those are but a few of the benefits that can be experienced if taxation of fast foods is introduced, but why should fast foods be taxed? Why not reduce the cost of healthier foods? These are some of the possible rhetorical questions that might be flowing through your mind as you read through this study. However, keep on reading as you shall understand why it is important to tax unhealthy foods (Niebylski, Redburn, Duhaney & Campbell, p. 90)

Studies and research have found that components in fast foods alter our mental ability to make choices between healthy and fast foods. These elements also cause an alteration in the mind which triggers obesity. Yes! Fast foods can affect ones mentality. These findings were made by the School of Medical Sciences in Australia’s University of New South Wales. The study discovered that fast foods block the mental ability of the sensory-specific satiety which causes one to stop over eating. (Food for thought: have you ever seen someone over eating a healthy yet tasty meal? What about junk food?).

It is common to see a fast food advertisement causing people with obesity feel hungry or have the desire of another meal especially a fast food meal. According to the study conducted at UNSW, fast foods have fatty acids that are correlated with and to mitochondrial dysfunction, obesity tissue inflammation and the most recent discovery, abnormally increased activity in motivational control and behavior of reward (Reichelt, Westbrook & Morris p. 5227).

This happens due to the affect these acids have on a mammal’s brain. This explains why many people have no self-control when it comes to administering junk food as they feel motivated to eat more junk foods as they feel a high sense of reward/satisfaction. Basically, fast foods and their many unexplained contents tend to program the human mind to enjoy fast food more leaving behind an unquenched level of craving for more. According to Dr. Amy Reichelt from UNSW, “As the global obesity epidemic intensifies, advertisements may have a greater effect on people who are overweight and make snacks like chocolate bars harder to resist” (Afshin, Ashkan,…, p. 98).

Optimist Way of Thinking

Some individuals might assume that regulating the amount of fast food meals one has can aid in reducing the intensity of the effects that come along with them. Many can also point out that fast foods are readily available and are also very affordable as compared to making a whole meal from ground up. Others might also claim that regular exercise will help in reducing cases of obesity. However, all this facts might sound true, but fail to be factual. If the federal government increases the taxation of fast foods, many people will have to substitute the fast food meals with healthier ones as the government will equally be forced to reduce the taxation of healthier meals (Baker, Kathtyn…).

It also makes no sense to spend three hours in the gym keeping fit and going back to enjoy fast foods. As it has been pointed out in the above study, fast foods are very addictive and not many people will resist the calling of a fast food meal if it is affordable, however, if it means a dent in ones pockets then many will strive to keep off. Lastly, nothing positive comes out of fast foods as they are worse that wars and epidemics.

Over the research of this study, I stumbled upon a devastating fact that would turn any optimist into a believer. The Historical Atlas of the 20th Century released an article documenting the amounts of deaths that occurred in the 20th century as a result of:

• Wars (both military and civilian casualties).

• Genocides, mass murders and political targets.

• Famine

The article claimed that an estimated total of 203 million lives were lost due to the above elements, this means that in every year, almost 2 million lives were lost to the epidemics. It is also well known that the 20th century did not offer the vast and unhealthy fast foods seen in the 21st century. Thus, this drove the research into the depths of determining the deaths that are caused by unhealthy living and fast foods in total. The World Health Organization did a study that uncovered the bitter truth that at the very least, 2.8 million people die every year due to overweight, unhealthy and obesity related issues. Surprisingly, the lion’s share of this value takes place in the Western hemisphere of the world, the home of fast foods. The above data means the fast foods and junk foods have a higher probability of killing more people than wars, famine, dictators, murderers and assassins all put in one (Food Revolution Network).


As the thesis statement points out, the choice is simple, do we choice to leave healthy and avoid using wealth as an excuses? Or do we welcome death with open arms? Through the study and research, it is now evident that fast foods have been similar to an angel we have never met as compared to the “devil” we know (healthy foods). Negative thoughts about healthy meals being tasteless, being for the rich or hard to comply too are all but negative thoughts in the minds of many humans. After all, we need to ask ourselves why these rich individuals struggle with eating healthy yet they have the money to afford a fast food meal on a daily basis and an equal gym membership (Offer, Avner p.14). Therefore, fast foods MUST be taxed for a better and healthier living.


Afshin, Ashkan, et al. "CVD prevention through policy: a review of mass media, food/menu

labeling, taxation/subsidies, built environment, school procurement, worksite wellness,

and marketing standards to improve diet." Current cardiology reports 17.11 (2015): 98.

Baker, Kathryn D., et al. "The impact of obesity and hypercaloric diet consumption on anxiety

 and emotional behavior across the lifespan." Neuroscience & Biobehavioral

 Reviews (2017).

Hawkes, Corinna, et al. "Smart food policies for obesity prevention." The Lancet 385.9985

(2015): 2410-2421.

“Junk Food Kills More Than Wars, Famine, Genocide.” Food Revolution Network, Food

 Revolution Network, 6 May 2016, foodrevolution.org/blog/junk-food-kills-wars-famine-


Niebylski, Mark L., et al. "Healthy food subsidies and unhealthy food taxation: A systematic

review of the evidence." Nutrition 31.6 (2015): 787-795.

Offer, Avner. "Obesity and welfare regimes." The Oxford Handbook of Economics and Human

 Biology. 2016.

Reichelt, A. C., R. F. Westbrook, and M. J. Morris. "Integration of reward signalling and appetite

regulating peptide systems in the control of food‐cue responses." British journal of

pharmacology 172.22 (2015): 5225-5238.

Sisnowski, Jana, Jackie M. Street, and Tracy Merlin. "Improving food environments and tackling

obesity: A realist systematic review of the policy success of regulatory interventions

targeting population nutrition." PloS one 12.8 (2017): e0182581.

Weintraub, Arlene. “Should We Tax Junk Foods To Curb Obesity?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine,

 11 Jan. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/arleneweintraub/2018/01/10/should-we-tax-junk-


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