The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Fat Tax should be implemented

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/4/2017 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,846 times Debate No: 102393
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




The debate is whether fat tax should be implemented. Fat tax is defined as a form of sin tax implemented on unhealthy foods that are linked to obesity. The motion is limited to first world or developed countries as these are the countries facing high level obesity and would benefit from such taxes.

Fat tax is proposing tax on food and drinks which are considered unhealthy. These foods are believed to increase the obesity levels. "Fat tax" is another form of sin tax - taxing on items such as cigarettes. A sin tax refers to popular vices and comes from prostitution in the 16th Century.
It is proven to be success. In the US for every 10% price increase there is 4% reduced consumption.

To combat the epidemic that is obesity it makes sense to implement this tax which has proven to decrease societal vices. When unhealthy food costs more it is proven that consumption will decrease. The excuse for "junk food" consumption is that it is cheap. However, a tax would make it more or less the same level as healthy food in which people would choose the healthier food as the issue is not healthy living education but affordability.

Sin taxes are proven to decrease the consumption of taxed goods falling in to the category, thus the solution to the obesity epidemic is "fat tax."
An an unimaginable amount is spend on medical expenses because of obesity and related weight issues. In countries where medical services are given by the state, this cost then falls to the state to cover. It is also important to remember disease and other medical conditions linked to obesity. Diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, several kinds of cancer, coronary artery disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, asthma, chronic back pain and hypertension are only a view diseases.

The diseases in this list are chronic and therefore need lifelong therapy which usually include expensive and complex procedures. Even if these are not all taken on by the state this puts pressure on the household to produce enough income not only to treat the medical issues but also to keep the rest of the household running. Not to mention the loss of income caused by obesity in ways such as decreased productivity, absence and premature death. This makes it clear the the "choice" to obesity and unhealthy living should be restricted - (note: not taken away). Therefore the government would have a legitimate reason to implement such a tax.

Finally, fat tax would allow for healthier decisions as the prices across healthy and unhealthy foods would no longer have such an immense gap. The simple fact that sugary, salty and unhealthy foods are more popular is the prices. These foods are not only less expensive but also less likely to be affected by inflation. It is also important to note that obesity is prevalent in lower socio economic households. Thus proving that food choices are dependent on price.

For theses reasons I propose the implementation of "fat tax"


First off, I would like to thank Laylaa for creating this debate as well as anyone else who takes the time to read and/or judge it. I will be representing the Con side of the debate and will be arguing that: the proposed "fat tax" should not be implemented. I will begin by building the Con argument in 4 main points. I will refrain from rebuttal until the second round as a gesture of good will for my opponent and to level the debate.

I) There are no objectively unhealthy foods-
Not all fatty food is inherently unhealthy. Fat is a necessary part of someone's diet though it should be consumed with moderation. The same is true of sugar and sodium and other components of food that when consumed in excess, have negative effects on health. As an example, the McDonald CEO went a full year eating nothing but McDonalds and actually lost about 20 lbs by eating a variety of things on the menu, controlling his portions, and exercising more. You can eat food usually considered unhealthy and maintain fairly good health if you are willing to try. (1)
What is healthy and what isn't is subjective because it is based on many factors like level of activity, an individual's rate of metabolism, various health conditions (anemia, diabetes, etc.), and even someone's environment and the weather they are exposed to. There is simply no principled method that can possibly set blanket standards that will be healthy for everyone. This becomes apparent when we assess initiatives like Michelle Obama's school lunch efforts where portion sizes were decreased which is bad for growing teens/children that are involved in heavy physical activity like sports. Sugars were also largely replaced with artificial sweeteners that can be equally unhealthy. These measures are ineffective at best and have a negative effect for many.

II) Exacerbates crony capitalist corruption-
The proposed tax adds to an already overcomplicated and messy tax code. This same tax code is so convoluted that the upper class and large corporations gain advantages through loopholes. This tax also give incentive for food industries to lobby for themselves and against competitors to promote more favorable dietary guidelines in regards to defining unhealthy/fatty foods. For instance, a corporation might seek to support officials that will determine their competitor's food unhealthy due to a particular dietary factor. They would also have incentive to lobby for officials who would protect dietary guidelines that placed taxes on their products. It is also worth noting that these various dietary regulations will hurt small businesses more than large corporations that are more equipped to lobby for favorable standards, engineer their food to meet standards, and take a hit economically from decreased demand. When small business suffers so does competition and our capitalist economy that relies on it.

III) Discriminatory and regressive-
This is a highly regressive tax because "fatty foods" are generally more affordable source of food and is more heavily consumed by the poor. This tax discriminates against impoverished groups that more heavily rely on cheaper "unhealthy" foods. This will exacerbate wealth inequality and hurt impoverished minorities.

IV) Fails to create a healthier society-
Unhealthy foods are healthier for the poor then not being able to afford food or skipping meals. This bill would particularly hurt many college students who rely on quick, easy food and would have to pay more or go with less. This bill does not incentivised eating healthy foods it only incentivised not eating unhealthy food.

V) Not the government's right-
The government has no moral right or Constitutional authority to decide for individuals what choices they should be making about their own health. Under this argument we should tax couches, computers, and chairs for contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle for some.

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Deonatus for his reply and start off the second round with the rebuttal of some of the main issues I have found in con's argument.

Con argues that there are no objectively unhealthly foods. This is untrue, a medical dictionary (online) has defined unhealthy foods as any food that is not regarded as being conducive to maintaining health. They include fats (especially of animal origin), "fast" foods (which are low in fibre and vitamins), foods high in salt and tropical oils (e.g., fried potato chips), and cream-based ("white") sauces (which are high in fat) and junk food as a high calorie food low in nutritional value. And furthermore as a collective society it is pretty clear that we all know what we classify as unhealthy foods. It is also further proven as no type of junk food was stated yet con already knew exactly what it is was when including an example of McDonald's which, by the way, is subject to biased as the CEO of McDonald's underwent this "experiment."

Con's point about discriminatory and regressive nature will be dealt with in my later argument along with the inefficacy of the tax. Finally, con ended by saying the government has no right to interfere with an individuals right or "choice" as I see it to their own health decisions. Choice, however, is only effective when individual's make choices that do not harm themselves. Obesity is a harm to oneself as I stated in round one. Also, where the government provides health care to a state and takes on the expenses, the state has every right.

Tax is an effective way to fight obesity. There are already numerous programs running world wide that are in place to combat obesity. On their on they are ineffective, but when this tax is added it solidifies what these campaigns are doing. In short, we need to practice what these campaigns preach.

Here, I address con's third point. It is important to address the obesity epidemic, even when families feel they have to spend more on food than they would like. Nothing short of force will cause people to change to healthier habits. It is important to note that low income households are the highest risk of obesity.These families are also effected by obesity related diseases. Thus spending more money on food now will save them thousands that will be spent on medical bills. Reducing obesity will make more productive people who can do more at work - potentially earning more and thus cancels out the tax. This tax is a paying it forward initiative - spending a little time and effort now and reap the benefits for the individual and the society in the future.

The government is within it's boundaries with this tax, rather than outright banning certain products -which would be the fastest solution it is providing a disincentive for certain harmful choices. This is an entirely legitimate action, as it does not remove choice from the table but awards the conscious choice and protects the general society from harm and medical spending is prevented.

It is also important to note that in the EU a report found that fat taxes were effective and even caused competition in the "healthier" foods sections causing more affordable prices for consumers.


First I'd like to thank my opponent for their thoughtful responses. I will begin by addressing my opponents opening argument and I will then move on to refuting their rebuttals of my argument.

1) My opponent spends much of her space illustrating the economic and public health concerns over obesity. I essentially agree with them on the points about the issue but I wholeheartedly disagree with the solution they proposed.
2) My opponents definition of the "fat tax" is perfect because it illustrates how vague and arbitrary the concept would have to be. "A form of sin tax implemented on unhealthy foods that are linked to obesity." Many foods with great health benefits could be linked to obesity. Almost any food eaten in oversized portions can be linked to obesity. My point is that no line can be drawn without slippery logic. How much fat is unhealthy? How much sugar or salt is unhealthy? There are far too many factors to living a healthy life and too many variables that change these values from person to person for a blanket standard to fit everyone. This goes back to my argument about school lunches. Those standards were based on the dietary recommendations for sedentary adult woman. At the time, I was a growing teenager male in 4 sports and in a weight training class. Those guidelines forced my school to cut portion sizes which left me hungry every day (I relied on free lunch because I came from a low income family). This was not healthy for me even though I was choosing a healthier lifestyle than a sedentary adult woman.
3) My opponent also makes reference to the fact that since our country offers medical subsidies the government has a right to make decisions in regards to their health. This is a dangerously authoritarian approach. The purpose of our government is not to force people into health, work, or any other good thing in exchange for medical benefits. That is called slavery. Our government should instead be focused on ensuring that people have access to the tools to build a healthy/happy life for themselves as they see fit. If they choose otherwise, that is their right and should not be subject to anyone else's opinions.

On to refuting Pro's rebuttals.

I) There are no objectively unhealthy foods-
My opponents definition of unhealthy is itself subjective, "food that is not REGARDED as being conducive to health". Unless my opponent can give specific nutritional guidelines (like # of calories/fat/salt/, then unhealthy is a subjective term. I used the McDonald's example to prove that even though much of society considers McDonald's food as unhealthy, the CEO was able to become healthier while eating nothing but that food. He did this through moderation, variety, and exercise. If I am biased towards believing I can lose weight by sitting on the couch more that does not work. His bias does not disprove his real, verified results.

II) Exacerbates crony capitalist corruption-
My opponent does not address this point which means I must assume Pro has accepted the burdens of these harms.

III) Discriminatory and regressive-
In this rebuttal my opponent supports glaringly slippery logic. "Choice... is only effective when individuals make choices that do not harm themselves." Essentially this statement claims that the government has power to determine for individuals what will lead them to live the happiest/healthiest possible life. Can we make exercise mandatory? Can we make people shower everyday? At what point do people have power over their bodies if this is the standard? My opponent also speaks to the supposed economic benefit to individuals. So the government should decide what we do with our money too? Why not elect a nutritionist/personal financier our dictator?

IV) Fails to create a healthier society-
My opponent didn't refute my points here except to bring up an unspecified EU report. This is not sourced and to use my opponents argument here, the EU "is subject to bias".

V) Not the governments right-
See 3 and III.
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank my opponent for his speedy response. For the final round I will give one more point, give my final rebuttal and end with the general debate summary.

Consistency - Most "Luxury" items are already taxed higher than "essentials" based on their association with unhealthy lifestyles such as alcohol and cigarettes. Fast food is not an essential. Eating too much of it is bad for the health. As we already have a precedent for substances which fit this description, there is no reason not to follow that precedent.

Over all rebuttal:

Con has spent most of the debate refuting points made rather than actually proving the inefficacy of the motion. This further proves that there is insufficient evidence that this motion would prove detrimental if put into place. Con agrees that there is an epidemic of obesity but has failed to give any other solutions to the epidemic that are not the proposed "fat tax." Meaning, this is the solution.

To make it clearer for a con, unhealthy foods are high in calories but low in nutritional value, this results in over eating as the body does not get the necessary nutrients. These foods should be taxed - this links to another point made about affordability. Having to buy and more food cancels out the "cheap" of the junk food.

(I just want it noted that I am from South Africa - things may differ in terms of government/medical systems)

Con feels that a disincentive to prevent unhealthy eating by the government is a form of an Authoritarian approach, when rather it is a way to improve the health and living conditions of the people.

There is no exact definition for unhealthy food, this is agreed. But we are all aware of foods that have the "junk/unhealthy" connotation.

Exacerbates crony capitalist corruption - unfortunately I previously ran out of space. If anything, this motion would result in even more smaller business growing. Junk food is made by big corporations. This also small food companies who sell healthier foods a greater chance in the economy as they are not part of the mass production system and thus have higher prices. This motion puts them on equal grounds with the once cheaper foods created by big business.

Discriminatory and regressive - short term, you spend less on food in the moment. But the low nutritional value makes you hungrier sooner resulting in more spending. This causes high intake of junk food leading to health problems. Health problems need to be paid for, with money - that you could have saved by eating healthier.

Fails to create a healthier society - "Unhealthy foods are healthier for the poor" - this argument has no stance as it cancels itself out. Unhealthy food is unhealthy for everyone regardless of socio-economic status. Here is a link to a report on the efficacy of fat tax. (

Because Con made very little points to support his argument I feel that this motion falls in my favour.


I'd like to thank my opponent for a very thoughtful, interesting debate. I will be addressing my opponents final arguments and summarizing why the Con argument deserve to win this debate

This argument is off topic because the Con would argue that all "luxury taxes" are wrong. Therefore unless my opponent can prove that "luxury taxes" are good (they didn't), this argument fails.

Overall rebuttal-
"Con has spent most of the debate refuting points rather than proving the inefficacy of the motion." It is not my burden to prove the inefficacy of this proposal only that the proposal is wrong. The burden is on Pro to prove efficacy, therefore by disproving points Con has successfully blocked Pro from proving that burden. My opponent also suggests that because Con did not present a solution, Pro's proposal is valid. Once again, solving the problem is not Con's burden. That is Pro's burden which was not met.

Pro doubles down on "low nutritional value" as indicating something is objectively unhealthy but once again Pro fails to define "low nutritional value" in any specific terms. Pro relies instead on common perception but common perception is both too vague, and too often inaccurate, to be basis for law.

Pro also continues to make points about the supposed financial benefits to people if they buy healthy food instead but did not address my point as to when governmental authority ends. Can the government decide our religion, job, exercise level, etc. for us with the goal of making people happier and healthier? No, of course not because government shouldn't be making any personal decisions for people regarding their own health or life.

Pro's argument against my argument regarding crony capitalism and corruption ignores all the points made (which flow through) and puts forth the assertion that unhealthy food is more controlled by large corporations than healthier foods. My opponent does not support the claim with evidence. Monsanto is one of the most well-known and hated corporations in the world. They control a staggering amount of agriculture. (1)

Pro's arguments about the discrimination/regressiveness of the proposed tax only claim that the government is doing it for the benefit of those that it discriminates against. This does not disprove that it is both discriminatory or that the tax will be disproportionately paid by the impoverished. It also restricts their freedom and exacerbates the unfairness of wealth inequality.

Pro abusively took a quote completely out of context in their next argument. Allow me to finish the quote. "Unhealthy foods are healthier for the poor then not being able to afford food or skipping meals." My opponent does not refute this statement they simply ignored the actual point. Even food low in nutritional value is healthier than starving.

As for the report, (this is perhaps my fault for being unclear in the title of my argument IV) it is irrelevant because:
A) it does not instantly prove that the government has a right to implement the policy (which my opponent has not proven elsewhere in the debate)
B) It does not address the areas where the Michelle Obama school lunch initiative failed. Forcing better health on the sedentary/unhealthy at the expense of those who choose to put forth the effort to be healthy through physically activity (who require more calories) is immoral.

My initial points stand. Pro's whole argument focuses on efficacy while ignoring morality. There has been no acknowledgement of the obvious slippery logic of the arguments given. There are no objective standards to distinguish healthy food from unhealthy foods and Pro has not outlined them even if there are. My opponent fails to address various points and arguments on the Con's side that flow through to prove my initial 5 points. Pro's arguments are anti-autonomy and immoral.

Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
>Reported vote: gomergcc// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: Pro needed to show why it should be implemented. Pro did really give a reason other that there is other forms of sin tax

[*Reason for removal*] The voter is required to either specifically assess arguments made by both sides in the debate or examine who bears the BoP in the debate and specifically assess their arguments to explain whether or not they met it. While the voter appears to assume that Pro has the BoP, it"s not clear why they have it, nor is there any specific assessment of Pro"s arguments.
Posted by Deonatus 3 years ago
I keep wishing there was more space! It was a fun debate I just wish we could have elaborated moreand addressed all of each other's points directly.
Posted by Deonatus 3 years ago
Sorry for R2 refutation V. I am somewhat long winded and it takes me more space to make my points usually haha.
Posted by What50 3 years ago
Yes I agree.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by PowerPikachu21 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro argues that more healthy foods would be bought compared to unhealthy food if Fat Tax was implemented. However, he fails to accurately define "unhealthy", as Con pointed out numerous times. Pro said it's defined as "any food that is not regarded as being conducive to maintaining health", though Con points out its vagueness. Pro tries again with "unhealthy foods are high in calories but low in nutritional value", but fails to define "nutritional value". With the main part of the resolution in question, Con points out that we don't get unhealthy if we try healthy lifestyle, even on a diet of McDonald's. Also, he points out the Government doesn't have to tell us how to live. Since Pro's argument relied on defining "unhealthy foods", but failed to do so, his argument doesn't hold. Arguments to Con. No side heavily lacked sources, so it's tied.

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