Could We Soon See a “Fat Tax?”

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Could We Soon See a There are a lot of food cures in the supermarket, but there are far more items that are the opposite of food cures. To tackle the problems of bad food, and the overall obesity issue in the U.S., there is heavy consideration of a “fat tax” or “sin tax” applied to sweets and high-calorie, non-healthy foods.

In fact, Iowa State researchers believe that the fat tax is not the best way to lower caloric intake from sweet food. They surmised that, rather than executing a tax on sugary goods at the grocery store, the food processors themselves should be taxed. If a company adds corn syrup and sugar before the product hits the shelves, they should be levied with tax.

These are economists, it should be pointed out, not medical scientists. Still, their ideas would sound great to consumers. They do not suggest that the tax would help resolve obesity, but they are simply looking into the best way to deliver such a tax.

The research shows that if the goal of a sin tax on sweeteners is to reduce calories consumed, lawmakers should consider taxing the companies. Taxing the processing stage allows food processors to reduce the amount of sweeteners they put into their products. Processors will also have incentives to use more of the lesser-taxed artificial sweeteners, and less of the higher-taxed sweeteners that are heavy in sugary products.

(While we’re on the subject, here are the top-five natural sugar substitutes that are actually healthy: The Top Five Secret Sugar Substitutes.)

This would cause prices at the grocery store to remain nearly the same rather than slapping the tax on the end product. Plus, from a health standpoint, it would reduce the calories in a food that could be linked to the sugar in something.

Any new tax on sweeteners, they say, will cause prices to go up. One big problem is that this will impact poorer economic groups in the U.S. Much of the sweeter goods are consumed by those with less money, so in effect a fat tax would wind up making poorer people pay more for calories that are still bad for them.

The researchers write that we’d “be amazed to see how much sweetener goes into food processing.” Leading the way is simple sugar and corn syrup, food additives that spike blood sugar levels and help pave the way toward a host of various health issues.