October 19, 2009, - 3:35 pm

Dumb “Health” Idea of the Week

By Debbie Schlussel

Men’s Health editor David Zinczenko says, “Hey, Let’s Tax Calories.”  The dude wants to tax high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).


Dave Zinczenko:  Men’s Health Editor Wants to Tax Calories, But Not Tasteless PDA Photos

But the marketplace has decided:  they want HFCS.  I personally try to stay away from it and most heavily sugared (any kind of sugar) foods and drinks.  But most people like them.  Otherwise, HFCS-free foods and drinks (of which there are plenty) would be more popular and companies would move toward that ingredient trend.

Remember the Olympics and all the stories we saw on Michael Phelps’ 11,000-plus calorie per day diet?  You think he eschews HFCS syrup on his pancakes?  Please.  Let’s tax  him, right?  Also, this dumb proposed tax (that will never happen) will hit poor people the hardest, since they’ll have to pay the passed-through taxes on everything from ketchup to soft drinks to soft-serve ice cream at fast food outlets, all of which contain HFCS.

Zinczenko claims that HFCS is what’s making Americans fat and, therefore, less healthy.  Really?  What about computers and TV?  Sitting around all day on the computer or watching TV makes people fat, too.  So does watching DVDs.  Maybe we should tax these industries and their customers.  Sitting around reading Men’s Health makes you fat, too.  Time for a new magazine tax.

The bottom line is that it’s about self-control and personal responsibility, NOT ingredients, products, and more Big Brother government nosiness by nanny state health freaks.  I like to eat healthfully and work out, but it’s nobody’s business if I didn’t.

Ya know what I’d like to tax?  The unnecessary words, faux indignation, and stupid ideas of self-important magazine editors who don’t seem to get why their readership is dropping precipitously.

Zinczenko, the author of “Eat This Not That! 2010: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution” and “The Abs Diet 6-Minute Meals for 6-Pack Abs: More Than 150 Great-Tasting Recipes to Melt Away Fat!,” is also editorial director of Women’s Health magazine.  Which makes me think about canceling my subscription.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

24 Responses

I don’t believe in “sin taxes” either, but the obesity problem is not as simple as you think it is. HFCS is absolutely part of the problem. If you ever decide to actually research the issue instead of continuing to assume that fat people are just lazy and undisciplined, this would be a good place for you to start:


Judie on October 19, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    heya, I have been using the heinz, (yeah I kno Heinz) reduced/zero sugar ketchup. its delish. regular ketchup is yucky now…for example…

    bottom line; power grab for more tax dolars from US.

    lindapolver on October 20, 2009 at 3:56 am

    I agree, I tried to avoid processed foods in the US but HFCS is in everything. I came to Israel and without doing a thing other than not eating foods containing it, I dropped 30 lbs in one year. I needed to. I had NEVER been fat but with menopause and the increase of this hidden ingredient in everything, I was a blob.
    Debbie I suggest you become a regular reader of mercola.com. Some of the stuff is idiotic but most is very right on.

    MK750 on October 20, 2009 at 9:08 am


What is the difference in taxing fatty foods that cause health risks and the government taxing cigarettes? I’m not a smoker but i’ve never understood why they can tax cigarettes and not unhealthy foods…there is no difference.

M: I agree. I’ve repeatedly written against ciggie taxes on this site. All they do is tax poor and working-class people to finance terrorism (terrorists use the cigarette taxes to sell smuggles cigarettes and finance terrorism). DS

matt on October 19, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Actually, companies use HFCS because of the Sugar Lobby. Sugar price supports keep sugar prices artificially high. HFCS is cheaper. I avoid HFCS because I can taste it and I don’t like it. It’s in everything–even in things you wouldn’t suspect. And correct me if I’m wrong, but HFCS is not Kosher for Passover.

lexi on October 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    For Ashkenazi (eastern european) Jews you are correct. Sephardic (arab/non-eastern european) ones can eat corn and other things Ashkenazi can’t. For us the only forbidden things are wheat, spelt, rye, barley and oats. We even get hummous!

    MK750 on October 20, 2009 at 9:11 am

Mexican Coca Cola tastes much better than our Coca Cola because it contains sugar and not HFCS. Only a few Mexican restaurants in the U.S. have these Cokes, but I’m told that Coca Cola makes the sugar (non-HFCS) available in the U.S. for Passover.

As for taxes like this, it’s a slippery slope. Once you add a tax on one food, they tax another food, then another food, then the tax goes higher, and it’s a vicious cycle of more and higher taxes. It ain’t to help our health.

Fortunately, Obama said that those making under $250,000 won’t get a penny of higher taxes, even with a $1.5 trillion annual deficit. People believed that!

Barry Popik on October 19, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    It is an idea that is very insensitive to the poor and lower middle class. Lower income people spend most of their income on consumption. They do not have the discretionary income to purchase “healthy” or “organic” items at the supermarket. Such people would choose living in a room or studio apartment over having fresh asparagus each week. Canned, boxed, and frozen goods are what keep lower income people going, and such things would be hit very hard with such levies.

    sorrow01 on October 19, 2009 at 10:59 pm

      even moreso, carbohydrates. they are HUNGRY so they fill up on cheap stuff like pasta. The low fat deception has made it worse. Higher fat foods DO NOT make body fat but give a feeling of satiety. Poor people have higher rates of diabetes because of this carb packing which causes them to become insulin resistant. Add the HCFS that’s in all those packaged foods sorrow01 talks about and you create a diabetic on his/her way to alzheimers due to the lower fat in the brain.
      it’s too complicated to go into here but I’m not advocating fried foods and stuff like that but good fats like in dairy and vegetable oils eaten uncooked.

      Consider that high cholesterol is a manufactured “disease.”

      MK750 on October 20, 2009 at 9:18 am

I agree with your premise but the reality is worthless politicians wont allow us to make those without “self-control and personal responsibility” accountable for their actions. Have you ever been to a market in a low income area? Do you see what they put in their baskets? A box of diabetes, a package of heart disease, a bottle of cirrhosis. So their bad habits end up in an ER because they didn’t get health care. So if we the responsible consumer don’t buy in those quantities then we won’t be taxed as much. I know it is a sell out of principles, but those who lack the self control and personal responsibility end up winning when they aren’t taxed on their behavior that is causing these problem in the health care.

A possible compromise, would you support those on welfare and food stamps to be limited to less caloric intake (HFCS) and healthy living choices since we are paying for their consumption?

CaliforniaScreaming on October 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm

We need to get rid of HFCS, but let the marketplace dictate it. Processed sugar is really no good for us either or the artificial sweeteners, so why just tax HFCS? I agree with the poster that mentions taxes on cigs. What about alcohol? HFCS may be more unhealthy than cigs and alcohol combined!

Jennifer on October 19, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I agree with your post. Our food is junk/crap. We are almost forced to eat food that is not good for us. We would have to go organic to eat healthy, but many of us can not afford to.
    I say the government should get the HFCS and other junk out of our food and then worry about taxing those who eat poorly.
    Read “Death By Supermarket”.

    Dan on October 19, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Splenda was great until it gave me MS like symptoms.

    MK750 on October 20, 2009 at 9:19 am

I don’t like to be told by snobs what I can and can’t eat. Lexi, its not kosher for Passover because corn is a principal ingredient.

NormanF on October 19, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Come on now, I know people who eat more junk food in a week than I can in a year. They don’t exercise and play video games on their time off but they don’t gain weight. I don’t need the government deciding what is good or bad for me. Most of our representatives are sociopaths who run for office for self gratification.
As far as costing the economy money isn’t it odd that the fat guy who pays taxes, and has health insurance is costing the economy money but the stick thin crack addict who doesn’t pay jack isn’t?

Larry on October 19, 2009 at 5:35 pm

another dim-witted, lame idea from one of the “beautiful people”…

BIG IRISH on October 19, 2009 at 6:35 pm

If I’m not mistaken, one reason why HFCS is so common in US foods is an import tariff on sugar that significantly increases its cost here. Once again, taxation is the problem, not the solution.

J C on October 20, 2009 at 12:46 am

I don’t know anyone that actually prefers HFCS products when actual sugar is available. The example of Mexican Coke above, and here in Texas, everyone goes nuts when they can find Dr. Pepper from Dublin, TX. Pepsi marketed a test product line called “Throwback,” (which is marketing so bad I can only assume they did it to “prove” that people prefer the original stuff) and it’s far superior to their usual offerings.

A tax is dumb and unnecessary when we can just eliminate the sugar tariffs/corn subsidies that cause the product to be so widespread and actually have it compete with sugar on a more level playing field.

Moreover, Debs, it’s extremely disheartening to see that the most my conservative fellows can offer these days is criticism. Your argumentation… of course people with high metabolisms who burn thousands of calories a day can pretty much eat what we want. Doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for everyone. And while the gov’t doesn’t have any place mandating dietary habits, there’s nothing wrong with suggesting healthier ways for people to eat and still enjoy themselves. Defending HFCS doesn’t do this.
And there is a difference. DVDs, the internet, magazines – don’t actually make you fatter. Bad food and no exercise makes you fat. I participate in all these activites when smoking, but they aren’t giving me cancer.

JP on October 20, 2009 at 6:24 am



Bob Porrazzo on October 20, 2009 at 6:49 am

I have to say – you find the funniest pictures…

…and of course this idea is stupid. Thanks for spotlighting, I hadn’t heard of it…

Christopher Hayes on October 20, 2009 at 9:08 am

“But the marketplace has decided:”

Deb: I have some bad news for you. The marketplace has NOT decided anything. The U.S. Government has decided.

The rest of the world uses sugar as a sweetener. The US uses corn or HFCS as we like to call it. Ever wonder why?

Ever wonder why sugar has been the sweetener of choice for centuries but the U.S. uses HFCS?

It’s called “CORN SUBSIDIES”. Here in America, we have “price supports” for sugar and “subsidies” for corn; all courtesy of Uncle Sam. Because of government regulations, taxes and subsidies, HFCS is a cheaper sweetener than sugar. One can only guess what would actually happen if a free market were operational.

There is NO Santa Claus on October 20, 2009 at 9:34 am

He looks like a closeted gay. His licking the girl doesn’t fool me.

DS_ROCKS! on October 20, 2009 at 11:47 am

Screw those Food Nazi Czar bastards. I am going to eat and drink what I like. We cannot allow these socialists to take over every facet of our lives. They must be exposed and defeated.

What’s next? A lot of Kentucky sour mash is made with corn. Are they going to put an extra tax on my Bourbon because it uses corn sugars?

Jarhead on October 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm

And even if HCFS was only a little cheaper than sugar companies might use it. But it is five to ten times cheaper than sugar depending on the year, making it near to fiscally impossible to use it.

luagha on October 20, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field