By Diana Maricruz Perez Santos
Everything depends upon the context in which it is applied. As experts on the subject, we know junk food is characterized by providing “empty” calories that promote weight gain and that this may be reflected in chronic degenerative diseases for those who consume them. However, we often forget that they are a food. A kind of food accessible for the most disadvantaged sectors. They do not consume for pleasure, they consume for necessity. So junk food is good or bad? Here I share my opinions about the controversy of taxing such foods in Mexico.
“Eating to live” is not the same as “living to eat”
Some days when I have lots of work I may go several hours without eating and it is terrible; the empty feeling in your stomach, the headache … I really can’t grasp that this is the condition of life for thousands of individuals on the planet. Today, news has kept me thinking a lot about that: the government of Mexico (the country where I live) has decided levy a tax on junk food and sugary drinks.
Arguably the intentions are good if we only focus the increase in diseases such as diabetes in the population, but on other hand we must recognize junk foods are the most accessible food and many Mexicans of the working class eat junk food in order to survive every day. The increased the value of this type of product may have a negative impact.
Science at the service of the homeland
To paraphrase slightly the motto of my alma mater: “The technology in the service of the homeland.”(“La técnica al servicio de la patria” in Spanish) The food scientists in my country know the reality about malnutrition and this is the main reason for investing in developing foods (like junk food) fortified with vitamins and minerals trying to provide better nutritional quality to the population. Currently there are products with these features in the market.
Imposing a tax on food, no matter what kind of food, should be banned. I can ensure that affected people will not opt for more healthy food, they will choose the cheapest option that may be lacking in safety measures, resulting in the same or worse health problems in the organism that consumes them.
I am not denying the existence of national programs to combat hunger, but an increase on the food most accessible is not a good idea. Who will watch over for people who didn’t apply to this type of programs? Here is where I recognize that eating is a luxury of which we should be grateful.
How do you feel about taxes on “junk food”? Will they help combat obesity and it’s effects? What role should junk food have in consumers lives?