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Tax Foods With High Fructose Corn Syrup & More, New York Times Suggests

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:13pm

My day is made! In today's New York Times, op-ed columist Nicholas D. Kristof made some bold, worthwhile suggestions to battle our "War on Sloth," as he puts it.

Kristof begins his piece, "Take a Hike," with a powerful introduction in which he laments the fact that, as one major study found, "the "vegetable" American babies and toddlers eat most is the french fry.

He then recommends banning soda, potato chips and other junk food snacks from our schools and discouraging them in the workplace, too.

Kristof writes: "It's unforgivable that our schools help to send children on the road to diabetes," he writes. "Obesity kills far more Americans than heroin does."

Strong words, but Kristof is right on target, in my opinion. That we let food companies invade our schools and hook our kids on sugary soft drinks and nutrition-deprived snacks is nothing short of unconscionable.

Perhaps Kristof's most provocative suggestion is a junk food tax, especially one on high fructose corn syrup, a near-ubiquitous sweetener that he rightly calls "a major culprit in the fattening of America." (I've pointed this out a number of times previously, such as here and here.)

Such junk food taxes already are being imposed in 19 states, New York Times opt-ed columnist Kristof points out.

A nickel-a-can on soft drinks, he notes, would yield a hefty $7 billion in revenues. (Just think of all the wonderful anti-obesity measures that income could fund!)

Kristof offers other great ideas, too, including selling cigarettes only in pharmacies and raising cigarette taxes; promoting jogging and biking; encouraging exercise breaks; distributing fruits and veggies to certain low-income people; expanding P.E; and designing better stairways.

I absolutely adore his wildly creative-- though implausible -- ideas of offering subsidies for running shoes, which he claims "make more sense than subsidies for corn" (he's right, too).

And he offers another outrageeous suggestion: To develop TVs powered by Exercycles. (Darn, that's a tantalizing idea! Are you listening, manufacturers of TVs and exercise machines? I love it! You only get to watch TV if you walk, jog or bicycle a few miles!)

Whether or not any of Kristof's ideas come to fruition, he makes the important point that we desperately need to come up with imaginative solutions to our growing obesity problem.

You simply must read Kristof's provocative, insightful op-ed column now.

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