At Camp Shane weight loss camps, we combine fun, caring people, great activities, fabulous camp grounds and nutritional guidance to help our campers on the road to a healthy lifestyle. What happens when the government decides to step in?

Generations of popes, kings and presidents have known this about human nature: when people really want something, they are willing to pay for it. That is why taxes on alcohol and tobacco – known as “sin taxes” – have long been reliable ways to fill government coffers.

Sin Taxes: Will marking up junk food make us healthier?

But in recent years, health officials have turned to the tariff system to curb public consumption of fat, sugar, salt and more. With the obesity epidemic now claiming 34% of U.S. adults, legislators are proposing taxes on the added sugar in products like sodas and the salt in snack foods like potato chips in the hopes that higher costs will change people’s eating habits and improve their health. The latest study suggests that taxing salty foods could indeed reduce deaths from heart disease by 2% to 3% in developing countries, where rates of heart conditions are starting to climb.

At least that’s the theory. But while these sin taxes may fuel funds to fight obesity, they may not necessarily have the desired effect on our eating habits. Other studies hint that it may take as much as a 10% increase in the cost of foods like soda, candy or cake to lower consumption by only 1%. And even if a salt tax helped people avoid buying chips, for example, they might make up for the sodium deficit with extra helping from the saltshaker at the table. That explains why sin taxes have traditionally worked better for the tax taker than the sinner!

Source: Time, May 7, 2012, Alice Park, Seasoning Tax: Will marking up sugar and salt make us healthier?