Actual Headline: Tough love for fat people: Tax their food to pay for healthcare.
Tough love. As opposed to all that sensitive, compassionate, unconditional love we've been getting over the years.
Tax their food. Because you know how all fatties eat is junk food. That's why they're fat lulz! I personally live on a steady diet of Doritos and Jolt Cola.*
Actual Opening Paragraph: "When historians look back to identify the pivotal moments in the nation's struggle against obesity, they might point to the current period as the moment when those who influenced opinion and made public policy decided it was time to take the gloves off."
Take the gloves off. And start rhetorically punching the fuck out of fatties, which will make a change from the gentle, thoughtful, and totally not shameful way people have been talking to fatties for years.
Actual Point of Article: Tax the food fatties eat to help pay for the crushing cost of medical care because their fatty-fat fatbodies strain the healthcare system blah blah yawn.
The thing is, even if this were an idea rooted in sound science (which it isn't), it's still based on the assumption that "fat-taxable" food is primarily consumed by fat people—and, not only so, but that fat people's diets are comprised mostly of "fat-taxable" foods (hence, prohibitive costs will force a significant change in diet which will miraculously work its instant skinny-making magic).
Here's the problem: My lunch today was brown rice with salmon and mushrooms, paired with a Diet Pepsi with lime. My breakfast was a bowl of Cheerios with soy milk. My dinner last night was mixed fresh fruit (cantaloupe, strawberries, blackberries, and grapes). I had a little ice cream, too. Dinner the night before was a salad with grilled chicken and a low-fat Italian dressing, with a Diet Dr. Pepper. Etc. And I'm still fat! More to the point, the only remotely "fat-taxable" item I consumed is some ice cream.
I don't eat a perfect diet by any means (and there are other times I'd be embarrassed to post what I'd eaten in the past few days, lol, sometimes just because of asstacular randomness and sometimes because of lack of healthfulness—sometimes both), but even a 10-30% tax on junk food isn't going to so radically change my diet (even at its absolute worst) that it would suddenly make me not-fat.
Which is not to say that there couldn't be a legitimate argument made in favor of a general "health tax" on food with no nutritional value. As I've said before, there are plenty of people who routinely drink regular soda and eat junk food like it's going out of style (like my old acquaintance, the McDonald's franchisee), but who aren't obese and never will be, by virtue of some magical combination of genetics, body chemistry, and/or disease that goes undiagnosed because someone who eats "too much bad stuff" and gets fat is a horrible glutton who is to be deeply pitied and presumed to need medical attention immediately, but someone who eats "too much bad stuff" and stays thin is a lucky so-and-so who is to be deeply envied and presumed healthy.
Even if they're not.
Framing this sort of thing as a fat v. thin issue (where fat = unhealthy and thin = healthy) is bullshit—and counterproductive, demonizing bullshit at that.
Not to mention the obnoxious insistence on insisting that fat is a moral issue, by using terms like "sinful food tax," as if "obesity tax" isn't bad enough already. And, best yet, the repeated use of the term "intervention," because all fatties obviously have eating disorders—which, btw, if true, would make prohibitively taxing junk food approximately as effective in solving "the obesity crisis" as the "war on drugs" has been in solving drug addiction.
There's so much fail here, it's rather spectacular. And I'll just note that the author of this megamess, Melissa Healy, is not just some random ding-a-ling, but "a staff writer for the Health section reporting from Washington D.C." who's been writing about health issues since 2003.
Wonder not why the conversation about fat in this country is so deeply fucked, when this is evidently the best the experts in the media have to offer.
[H/T to Shaker ChelseaWantsOut.]
* This is not true.