Should Overweight People Pay Higher Taxes?


No one argues that the U.S. has a weight problem. What to do about that problem is a conundrum that seems to offer no easy solution. Should the overweight pay more taxes than the thin? One researcher thinks he has the answer to making the overweight pull their own weight.

According to Richard McKenzie, the Walter B. Gerken Professor of Enterprise and Society in the Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine, in his book HEAVY! The Surprising Reasons America is the Land of the Free—and the Home of the Fat, America’s weight problem is linked to:

  • Growing world trade
  • The end of communism
  • The increase in free-market economics
  • Increasing rights for women
  • The decline in the real minimum wage
  • The rise of competitive markets around the world

McKenzie describes the shushed up results of the U.S. increase in weight: greater fuel consumption, increased greenhouse gas emissions, reduced fuel efficiency of cars and jets, expansion of health insurance costs (and fewer insured Americans), drops in the wages of heavy people, and massive reinforcement of rescue equipment and hospital operating tables to cope with the obese.

To solve this weight problem, McKenzie opposes extra taxes. Instead, he’s in favor of a free-market solution. He says that for Americans to retain their cherished economic freedoms of choice, heavy people must be held fully responsible for their weight-related costs and not be allowed to shift blame for their weight to their genes or environment. Allowing heavy Americans to shift responsibility for their weight gain, he warns, can only exacerbate the country’s weight problems.


Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.