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The Western diet is packed with unhealthy trans fats, refined sugars and bad carbohydrates. This translates into food that is less nutritious aka junk food, yet eating healthier in the U.S. is not that simple.
Healthy food is usually more expensive than junk food, and this is the main reason many Americans stay away from it.
However, eating processed foods takes a heavy toll on one’s health in the long run. Obesity and diabetes are two conditions linked to a chronically bad diet.
In addition, processed foods have more calories per the dollar you spend. Yet, we often fail to understand that these calories are “empty” calories, which means the body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
So, why is healthy food so expensive in America?
First, fruits and vegetables involve higher labor costs than processed foods as produce need human workers to be produced and harvested.
Second, the U.S. government offers generous subsidies for crops like corn, soy, and wheat (three main ingredients in junk food) but is less generous when it comes to healthy foods.
A Junk Food Tax Could Help Fix the Problem
While some consumers rights advocates push for programs that would entice the population to make healthier choices when it comes to diet, other people are demanding a junk food tax.
The junk food tax should be applied on products that consumers can do without like soda, potato chips, or candy. Such taxes were applied in the past and were efficient. For instance, taxes on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages significantly reduced consumption.
What’s more, there are some government programs that focus on making healthy food affordable, such as the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program. Other ways of promoting healthy food include awareness campaigns and community gardens.
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