After reading Kristen's blog today, I couldn't help but repost my reply to it; the topic is simply too important.
Our country is out of control, eating itself into oblivion, cutting physical education classes, offering sub-standard school lunches. It's embarrassing. I mean, seriously.
About ten years ago, I got a ticket for running a red light—on my bicycle. I remember pleading to the cop's sense of the absurd: "Come on, man... I'm on a bicycle. Do you think I really need a ticket for this?"
He smiled. "I'll tell you the same thing a cop told me when he caught me speeding years ago—the only way I know you'll change your behavior is if I hit you in the pocketbook." That was a $275 lesson and I've never run a red light on my bike again. Lesson learned.
Anyone can learn new behavior if the stick is painful enough. If there's a tastier carrot, even better, but the stick has to hurt, too.
We need to make fat food unpopular. We need to make it expensive. I know that might have massive implications for the fast food industry and my response can be summed up in two words:
KFC, McDonald's, Taco Bell... all you guys can blow me. You're giving Americans loaded guns and saying we're pulling the trigger ourselves. Okay, I'll give you that... so let's price the guns at $1000 instead of $100 and see how that affects the equation.
My idea is a fat tax. I explained it in Kristen's blog today:
The pendulum has reached its apogee for our adoration of fat food and the trend is ever so slowly coming back. It may take a generation of people getting diabetes and gastric bypass before we start to realize that our health care system carries the greatest financial burden of bad dieting, which means we all pay for everyone's bad choices.
My wife thinks I'm crazy, but I have the solution to this fast food mess—a fat tax.
Here's my theory: you tax the restaurants for using all the stuff that makes people fat, like all the saturated fats. The more customers buy the food, the more tax they pay. The goal of a fat tax is to make fast food expensive and unpopular... and then use that new tax revenue to subsidize healthy food alternatives which are more expensive than fast food. That eliminates the "but you're taxing the poor" argument because you'd be driving poor people to buy a 99¢ smoked turkey sandwich on wheat, rather than a chewy fat pill like a double-bacon cheeseburger.
Of course, a fat tax would be incredibly unfair for big businesses and their profit margins, but you have to ask yourself when enough fat American is enough; government is meant to represent the people's interests—NOT big business' interests—and (sadly) the only way the average citizen permanently modifies their behavior is when it hits them in the pocketbook.