Slide 1: Hello, today I am going to discuss a major problem that is affecting our country and that is the Nations Obesity Crisis. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases also known as the NIH, more than 68.8 percent of adults are considered overweight or obese. Slide 2: This area of research hits home for me in particular because diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity run in my family. The country needs to act.
A solution which has been frequently debated is, would an implementing of a “fat-tax” for less healthful foods and beverages motivate individuals in this group to be more healthy and make healthier lifestyle choices? Slide 3 The majority of the obese population pays more in medical bills as a result of obesity related diseases. Obesity is draining the public purse, as a result of billions of dollars it annually adds to increased government health care costs. According to the Surgeon General, it is estimated that obesity related diseases cause $117 billion in medical expenses annually. Slide 4 The question is who or how are we to address this issue. Many researchers have stated that government is the only one capable of addressing the obesity crisis. Supporters of government intervention feel government is the only agent capable of pushing the country towards a more healthy direction.
So is the answer “Twinkie Taxes” or “McTaxes.” Slide 5 Opposers of the implementation of a, “Fat Tax” feel that any type of government intervention could be seen as government acting too “paternalistic,”. This is based on two arguments the, “anti-paternalism argument” which states that an individual is both a better judge and securer of his own well being and the “autonomy-based” argument which states it over rules the ability for an individual to make their own choices. Slide 6 There is a high percentage of an obese population among minority groups and women, to be more specific it has been estimated by some researchers that 53 percent of African Americans were obese, compared to 51 percent of Mexican Americans, and 39 percent for white. The Centers for Disease control have also found obesity rates lower for non-poor families, at about 30.6%. Slide 7 Having said this, opposers of the implementation of the government approved fat tax have also stated that this tax would affect the minority and low income populations the most. It has been documented that typically those of low income status have a lack of access to healthy food. The majority of the low income population also tends to live in impoverished areas with high crime rates.
Slide 8 Opposers of the, “Fat Tax” feel the sole objection is to raise revenue. However those in favor state that the basic tenet is to deter consumption of harmful products and at the same time raise revenue making up for the billions spend annually on health care cost related to obesity health problems. There are other countries who have already implemented the fat tax and have seen an increase in revenue, such as Denmark, France and Mexico. Slide 9 Others researchers are proposing that rather than the implementation of a fat tax, a Health Food Tax Credit would be the answer. This would be in the from of a tax incentive or a refundable tax credit for money spent on qualifying health foods, In other words what researchers are stating is, “we can turn [the] stick into a carrot. Supporters of this policy also state that this tax credit would be less invasive. Slide 10 Other research shows that the Obesity Crisis is a result of the, “Obesogenic Environment,” which in essence is a problem with the environment and not so much the individual. For example a dramatic increase in standard portion sizes, reduced physical activity, increased intake of ‘fast’ foods, increased intake of sugar rich products all of which increases unhealthy food consumption habits.
Slide 11 The obesity epidemic is also a result of various socioeconomic and environmental factors. Modern society now lives much more sedentary. Various government initiatives have been implemented to help combat the obesity crisis such as health education program for adults, kids and families but these have proven to be unsuccessful and no significant results have been shown.
Slide 12 Those in favor of the implementation of a fat tax state that in order for this tax to be successful and tackle the problem, the tax rate must be high enough to have an impact. However those opposed feel rates would double even triple to the point that it would cost, $20 or $200 dollars for a Twinkie or a Snickers. Slide 13 Those in favor of the Anti-Paternalistic argument also state that “Fat Taxes” can be seen as ethically and racially discriminating. Then there is the argument that some individuals are pre-disposed to the getting diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even cancer due to their genetic makeup. For others there is an ingrained cultural, psychological, and behavioral pattern which puts them at a higher risk for obesity. Slide 14 Whichever side you are on, what we do know for sure is that the Obesity Crisis is very real. According to a study conducted by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, certain states have a much higher percentage of an obese population, those being, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia, the state of California fortunately ranks on the lower percentage coming in at 24.4%.
Slide 15 My hypothesis is, Does an Individuals social status such as income, education and race determine whether or not they are in support of the implementation of a, “fat tax.” With the Variable being, Income, Education, Race/Ethnicity. The Dependent Variable, being Fat Tax and the Independent Variable, being education, income and race. Slide 16 I am proposing surveying control groups in all areas mentioned previously such as, various socio economic groups, educational levels and race/ethnicity groups. Determining which groups would be more in favor of the implementation of a government approved, “Fat-Tax” and to see which groups would not be in favor of a Fat-Tax. Slide 17 I am also proposing running several experiments with these control groups by presenting them with a stimulus such as a Documentary of the Negative Effects of poor lifestyle choices which lead to Obesity. Running several Pre-test and Post-Test to this experimental group. These experiments would help to determine if the stimulus changed the opinions of this group being in favor or against the, “Fat-Tax” implementation.
Slide 18 I am proposing conducting scale questionnaires using the Bogardus Social Distance Scale Format. What I am hoping to see from these results is that if many are in favor/ against the Healthy Food Tax Credit would they also be in favor/against the Fat Tax. If an individual is willing to accept one association would they then be willing to accept the other. Slide 19 Although supporters of the anti-paternalistic classic debate argue that a government intervention is too much of “Big Brother” watching. Supporters claim that government is the one only one capable and with the means to address the Obesity Crisis in our country. Those in favor state the answer and solution would be the implementation of mandated government-approved diet.
Slide 20 Research by the School of Public Health shows one main contribution factor to stress is Health ranking in on the second highest at 74%. The Obesity crisis is very real in our country, lowering the obesity rates would overall lead to healthier individuals which would result in reduced stress and Happier Americans!.
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