Fitness Tax Credit: Fitness Inducer or Revenue Reducer?

A while back I wrote about a proposed junk food tax.  Proponents of junk food taxes argue that maintaining good health amoung individuals in society is an important public policy consideration.  But there are components to a healthy lifestyle beyond avoiding junk food.  Fitness through physical activity is frequently cited as a critical element of healthy lifestyle.  Daily exercise and weight control is the bedrock of the nutrition pyramid published by the Harvard School of Public Health.  And the Presidential Council on Physical Fitness and Sports reports that “Adults 18 and older need 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week to be healthy; children and teens need 60 minutes of activity a day for their health.” ((http://www.fitness.gov/resources_factsheet.htm))  In response to these calls for increased physical fitness, some are proposing a fitness tax credit.  If the health of individuals is indeed an important public policy objective, then a fitness tax credit, a tax credit that makes fitness resources more accessible, may be a worthy consideration.

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Arguments For and Against Junk Food and Soda Taxes

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The debate over junk food taxes is drawing increasing attention from both sides.  Continued debate over of the adverse health impacts of sugary drinks is coupled with heating debate over the propriety of a tax on a dietary pleasure — a pleasure some believe people have an unassailable right to partake in, but others find to be a health hazard.

Here are some recent arguments from vocal advocates on both sides of the debate:

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The Junk Food Tax: Good for Our Health or Bad for Our Wealth?

obtax1Last month New York Governor David Paterson proposed an obesity tax to be levied on fattening foods.  He characterizes America’s problem with obesity as a crisis.  Drawing a comparison to cigarettes, he suggests that just as cigarette taxes reduced the number of American’s consumption of cigarettes, a tax on certain junk foods should reduce the consumption of unhealthy fare.

Paterson remarked:

“Just as the cigarette tax has helped reduce the number of smokers and smoking-related deaths, a tax on highly caloric, non-nutritional beverages can help reduce the prevalence of obesity”[1]

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Is Outdated Behavioral Code to Blame for Unhealthy Living Habits?

Notwithstanding the well known danger and the clear evidence that healthy living habits significantly reduces the risk, many Americans choose to live lifestyles that put them at high risk of suffering from heart disease. To explain this seemingly irrational human behavior let’s take a look at how evolution has coded humans to behave.

codeevoThe leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease.   In fact the average American stands a 1 in 3 chance of dying from heart disease.   Advances in medical technology cannot offset the increasingly poor lifestyle that American’s lead.  Most people are familiar with the most often cited measures for decreasing the risk of heart disease, mainly:


1.       Don’t smoke

2.       Be active

3.       Eat healthy

Notwithstanding the well known danger and the clear evidence that healthy living habits significantly reduces the risk, many Americans choose to live lifestyles that put them at high risk of suffering from heart disease.   To explain this seemingly irrational human behavior let’s take a look at how evolution has coded humans to behave.

Continue reading “Is Outdated Behavioral Code to Blame for Unhealthy Living Habits?”