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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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August 31, 2005

A Fructose Tax?

A reader reacts to my statement that I don't want my government trying to manage my weight:

Fatness is killing people and ruining their quality of life. I would rather see the government investing millions of dollars in health clubs, free gym memberships, and nutritional education instead of spending billions of cholesterol drugs, insulin, open heart surgeries, and innumerable hospital stays resulting from chest pains. Oh, by the way, the government spent $47.5 billion on obesity in 1998 (CDC, Finelstein, Fiebelkron, Wang, 2003).

However, the federal government can, and should, intercede without superseding the sovereignty of the individual. Federal and state governments have the freedom to tighten control over the food that is sold in stores and restaurants across the states. Perhaps it is time that companies who produce and use high fructose corn syrup (a cheap sweetener with links to cancer, diabetes, and obesity) are taxed heavily for the inclusion of the ingredient. One columnist even suggesting listing the health risks associated with foods high in trans and saturated fats on the packaging to remind individuals of the potentially deadly medical conditions tied to Big Macs. There are myriad options available to the government that would not expropriate fat people from their cars and their rambling, air conditioned,personal-movie-theaters-and-sports-stadiums-we-call-houses in the suburbs.

One could say sales of fast food indicate the consumer demands the product but one cannot say for certain that consumers would be reluctant to shift preferences if healthier options were available or if awareness increased about the dangers of some ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup. So, yes, Uncle Sam, Doctor Diet, feel free to complete your examinations and diagnose obesity so that we may have an idea of how to fight it, not to interfere with the power of the individual, but the ensure that the individual simply lives.


Josh Vitulli
Woodinville

Respond here.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at August 31, 2005 05:10 PM



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