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This house would bring in "fat tax"

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laylaalaylaa (PRO)
The debate is whether fat tax should be implemented. Fat tax is defined as a form of sin tax implemented on unhealthy foods that are linked to obesity. The motion is limited to first world or developed countries as these are the countries facing high level obesity and would benefit from such taxes.

Fat tax is proposing tax on food and drinks which are considered unhealthy. These foods are believed to increase the obesity levels. "Fat tax" is another form of sin tax - taxing on items such as cigarettes. A sin tax refers to popular vices and comes from prostitution in the 16th Century.

It is proven to be success. In the US for every 10% price increase there is 4% reduced consumption.

To combat the epidemic that is obesity it makes sense to implement this tax which has proven to decrease societal vices. When unhealthy food costs more it is proven that consumption will decrease. The excuse for "junk food" consumption is that it is cheap. However, a tax would make it more or less the same level as healthy food in which people would choose the healthier food as the issue is not healthy living education but affordability. 

Sin taxes are proven to decrease the consumption of taxed goods falling in to the category, thus the solution to the obesity epidemic is "fat tax."

An an unimaginable amount is spend on medical expenses because of obesity and related weight issues. In countries where medical services are given by the state, this cost then falls to the state to cover. It is also important to remember disease and other medical conditions linked to obesity. Diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, several kinds of cancer, coronary artery disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, asthma, chronic back pain and hypertension are only a view diseases.

The diseases in this list are chronic and therefore need lifelong therapy which usually include expensive and complex procedures. Even if these are not all taken on by the state this puts pressure on the household to produce enough income not only to treat the medical issues but also to keep the rest of the household running. Not to mention the loss of income caused by obesity in ways such as decreased productivity, absence and premature death. This makes it clear the the "choice" to obesity and unhealthy living should be restricted - (note: not taken away). Therefore the government would have a legitimate reason to implement such a tax.

Finally, fat tax would allow for healthier decisions as the prices across healthy and unhealthy foods would no longer have such an immense gap. The simple fact that sugary, salty and unhealthy foods are more popular is the prices. These foods are not only less expensive but also less likely to be affected by inflation. It is also important to note that obesity is prevalent in lower socio economic households. Thus proving that food choices are dependent on price.

For theses reasons I propose the implementation of "fat tax"

Return To Top | Posted:
2017-05-04 06:08:24
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
I'd like to thank my opponent for opening a very interesting case.

On a principle level, pro believes the role of the state is to incentivise people to eat certain foods. Without necessarily claiming that black markets will arise for hamburgers, I question whether this mandate is actually justified. Pro's justification is that people harm their health. That's true, if they eat these foods excessively and don't exercise. By the same logic, we should raise the prices of poison to disincentivise people from making really dumb choices and eating it. The problem isn't inherently that people eat McDonalds, the problem is how a limited fraction of customers consume their products and lead poor lifestyles. This raises the first principle problem - that the measure is not targeted towards those who are actually irresponsible.

This in turn leads on to a further problem. If people are irresponsible with their eating habits, it stands to reason that perhaps they are irresponsible in other aspects of their lives, such as their finances. People often have multiple rationales for purchasing behaviour and fatty foods are no exception - typically they are faster and easier to prepare, they're addictive and taste great, they're convenient to eat, and in many situations, a cultural norm. I generally agree that if you double the prices of fast food you might get 40% less consumption. But the people who'll be turned off are least likely to be the ones pro wants to target.

So what is the role of the state? In my view, states have two mandates - freedom and equality. That's because we hold value in democracy, where states are run for and by the people, in the best interests of the people. Neither serfdom or inequality are particularly desirable outcomes of any model. However this also implies some measure of responsibility on the part of the people, based on mutual trust, to manage their own lives outside of the narrow limits of a free and equal society.

Are there cases where government intervenes to protect people from themselves? Absolutely. Certain street drugs are an example. But fat? Sugar? These are substances that are literally necessary for human survival which, under pro's model, the government would set limits on. On the flipside, most people don't get enough Vitamin C. But if you have too much it wrecks your immune system. Most countries have too much salt in their diets, some have too little. The point is this: is it the government's role to micromanage your consumption habits, such as how frequently you eat certain classes of food? Does that best serve the interests of freedom for the people? Or is it the governments role to empower people by making healthy options available and educating them about consequences to build healthy habits for each individual?

I believe the second approach to be superior for three additional reasons. First, it gives people the option to make what we might morally consider to be a "bad" choice according to their own beliefs and values, respecting their personal autonomy without harming others. We especially recognise that there's more to people than their weight and that this needs respecting. Second, people have varied nutritional needs according to their body type, level of exercise and medical history. A standard that might be totally unhealthy for people of certain body types might be healthy for others. That's why athletes at the Olympics are often pictured eating fast food. And third, millions of kids go hungry right now. Thousands more could be priced out of the market by this measure. For all pro wants to talk about stabilising prices, the reality is that this measure means cheap candy bars will no longer be available.

So rather than focusing on the food content, let's focus on the real problem, which is the behaviour of a small number of irresponsible consumers.

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2017-05-07 00:14:36
| Speak Round
laylaalaylaa (PRO)
Thank you Con for your argument. I am going to begin with the rebuttal first, then new points.

Con argues that this motion is unnecessary because there is such a small amount of people who are irresponsible in their choices as consumers. Nearly 78 million adults and 13 million children in the US deal with the health and emotional effects of obesity every day. In the Middle East, 75% of the population is overweight while over a third is considered obese. This is a staggering number when you think about it. This means that these people are more likely to suffer from cancer, diabetes, physical disabilities and other diseases that not only put a strain on the individual and household but also the state who in certain countries subsides or completely covers medical costs.

Con does agree that consumption will decrease if the tax is implemented, but believes the "wrong people" would reduce consumption, however weight issues are mostly associated with lower income families as they look for cheap inconvenient food that in the long run will cost them more. These foods are low in nutritional value and cost but high in calories. This means they must eat more to get what their body needs resulting in over eating. This also leads to more money spent on medical expenses.

Tax is an effective way to fight obesity. There are already numerous programs running world wide that are in place to combat obesity. On their own they are ineffective, but when this tax is added it solidifies what these campaigns are doing. In short, we need to practice what these campaigns preach.

Here another of Con's points is dealt with - the government is within it's boundaries with this tax, rather than outright banning certain products -which would be the fastest solution it is providing a disincentive for certain harmful choices. This is an entirely legitimate action, as it does not remove choice from the table but awards the conscious choice and protects the general society from harm and medical spending is prevented.

It is also important to note that in the EU a report found that fat taxes were effective and even caused competition in the "healthier" foods sections causing more affordable prices for consumers.

Return To Top | Posted:
2017-05-08 05:47:30
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
I thank my opponent for continuing this debate.

I do not deny that many are overweight. I deny they are a global majority. Yet pro's measure increases the cost of fatty foods for everyone, not merely those who abuse their bodies. It is not fair to punish the many for the irresponsible actions of a few. To extend the point, staying alive longer is not necessarily cheaper for the state, who then have to fund things like medical subsidies and superannuation far more. Much cheaper to die sooner.

Not only is pro's lower-income association classist, it also supports what I've been saying all along. Those less responsible with money are often less responsible with their bodies. Given this, pro's point that poor people are particularly price-conscious is incorrect, and that's before you factor in that there are multiple reasons people buy these goods, as I pointed out in the first round.

The best way to practice what the campaigns preach is to eat junk food more sporadically, according to your energy needs and body type. That's not something the government can generalize to punish all junk food consumers. To extend this, fat is a particular kind of junk which is a slippery slope to other goods like salt, sugar etc. Too much of anything is bad for you, but all these are not bad in isolation. At a certain point you actually price some people out from getting their nutritional needs, as I pointed out in the previous round. The choice is removed from anyone who cannot afford it. As a child in poverty, saying "well you have the choice to go to Burger King but you can't afford to" basically means you don't have a choice.

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2017-05-10 18:30:05
| Speak Round

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