While other major cities like New York have imposed taxes on sugary-drinks, Chicago has gone a different path and will have a system based on self-responsibility that features health incentives and calorie-labeled machines. I'm not saying that self-responsibility isn't important in health, but this self-responsibility will only affect part of the city's population.
Demographically speaking which sector of society has a predilection towards unhealthy food including soda? The poor. It's not a character flaw that makes them more likely to buy unhealthy foods, but rather other issues that are not being addressed by Rahm's Wellness Program. Firstly, being poor means you are making very little money to buy food, and even food stamps are not given in amounts that cover the high costs associated with healthy food. The minimum wage isn't being raised either. How can the poor be expected to buy healthy food when it just costs too much? Even if the money was there in food stamps or raised wages, the poverty-stricken areas of Chicago are often referred to as food deserts, and healthy food is hard to find.
So, it's the poor that are being heavily affected by the immediate and cheap access to junk food. This easy access will have repercussions on health costs, and as public insurance options like Medicaid face cuts, the poor face becoming uninsured and the 2014 implementation of Obamacare is too far off. Dental coverage on Medicaid is also being heavily cut in Illinois, and everyone knows soda rots teeth. So, now there's no assistance for that either.
Also, Emanuel's plan appears, for the time being, to only affects adults. What about the children he always wants to put first? Karen Lewis mentioned that there are many factors outside of a teacher's control that affect learning and one of them was whether or not that child was well-fed and that does not just mean underfed and starving but also overfed junk-food. Childhood obesity does not mean children are being well-fed rather badly fed excessively, and the reasons the latter is happening are the above reasons regarding income, access to healthy food, and opportunities to get regular check-ups.
So, we have an epidemic on our hands and it appears to be caused by a lack of resources. So, why not impose a tax that could help cover the costs of Medicaid, food stamps, and education and access to healthy foods so that the problem could start being eradicated at the source? Why do we have a program about to be rolled that affects only a percentage of people and not obesity's target audience? Many people are saying that this program was a pay-off by the soda companies so that they wouldn't face higher penalties and taxes that would most likely exceed the cost of this program, and the more the program is picked apart, the more people see that it is not helping those struggling with the health problems of obesity the most and probably is a pay-off.
The Wellness Program is a start, Mayor Emanuel, but a tax to create better programs is heavily needed to help those struggling with the effects of obesity the most, and it needs to happen soon.
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