‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Soda & Skittles Protest Taxation without Representation

Eat less junk, buy more healthy food (hey, we just had an article about that)... The question is, should we tax "junk" foods? Maybe we should subsidise "healthy" foods? It just so happens there's some research about this. Before the food prudes ban pizza and Robin Hood's health nuts give away grapes, garlic, and... Nuts, let's see about that science.

The thought with taxes: People are deterred from buying crummy food if it's more expensive, and, in theory, the collected money goes toward paying medical bills associated with chronic fatness... Sorry if that's a little politically incorrect... But seriously, being fat brings with it a bunch of expensive diseases.

Non-communicable diseases account for 60% of deaths annually, and 40% of those are caused by dietary factors like scoffing salt-plastered, fatty, and sweat foods, and not eating your fruit and veggies. This costs billions and takes its toll on the environment, economies, and healthcare systems alike.

On the flip side, if healthy food fodder is cheaper, people are incentivised to buy and eat those, which helps people maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Here's what the researchers found from 78 studies:
  • Consistent evidence that taxes and subsidies did, in fact, influence dietary behaviours
  • Evidence suggested a minimum of 10-15% tax/subsidy was the most effective
  • Using subsidies and taxes in tandem (together, rather than singly) was more effective
  • Ongoing evaluation is important to track both intentional and unintentional effects
Such policies are best used as part of a greater framework to promote health and nutrition education and also focus on reducing poverty. Lower-income folks and those in rural areas are special populations. Further research will determine if such legislation yields benefits. 

As for the rest of us, taxation and subsidisation with representation may be necessary to save us from our greedy selves.

A "PS" of sorts: An even newer study found that some items were more sensitive than others, and a minimum 20% tax on soft drinks, sugar, and snacks is needed to influence consumption.

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