Can the tax code help fight obesity and diabetes by not giving tax breaks to businesses that market junk food to children? At least one U.S. Representative thinks so.
Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-Conn., recently co-sponsored the Stop Subsidizing Childhood Obesity Act. This bill would prevent companies that sell unhealthy food or beverages to children from deducting marketing and advertising expenses from their income taxes (we also note serious constitutional issues with this proposal). Revenue raised from this program would be used to help fund the Agriculture Department’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. This bill was introduced at a time when widespread consumption of junk food and beverages appeared to pose major health problems, especially to children.
Other health-related tax proposals have been made, including a soda tax. Philadelphia became the first major city in the United States to pass a soda tax in June of this year, imposing a 1.5-cent-per-ounce excise tax on sugary beverages such as soda and energy drinks. It is anticipated that Philadelphia’s tax will generate $91 million each year with the funds going to help early childhood programs, libraries and parks.
Do you think the tax code can be used to fight obesity and diabetes? Rather than taxes, we think that addressing obesity begins with what individuals choose to put in their mouths or what parents allow their children to eat or drink. Taxes alone will cure neither obesity nor diabetes.