Improve Your Health, Lower Your Taxes

The Washington Post
April 9, 2001
by Joey Holleman

"The Texas physician who introduced aerobics and is a candidate to become the nation's next surgeon general is endorsing federal tax breaks to encourage more healthful behavior. Call it an aerobics-and-veggies deduction."

"His plan would give tax deductions of up to $1,000 per person for taking care of himself or herself. Keep your body mass index under 25, and you get a $250 deduction. You would get $250 deductions for keeping your blood pressure under 140 over 90, keeping your cholesterol under 200 and not smoking."

Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D.:

"We need a financial incentive to encourage Americans to take care of themselves."

Comment: Regressive tax policy favoring the wealthier, healthier subset of our society hardly represents rational health policy. Kenneth Cooper may well be a good choice to encourage improved physical fitness and better nutrition. It is very unfortunate that he begins with a proposal that echoes the flawed tax policy of the current administration, while failing to propose a realistic program that will promote better health habits.

(I would comment further on the logistical difficulties of his proposal, and the inequity of a system that penalizes individuals with genetic and cultural impediments to achieving his goals, but I'm about to leave for my daily two mile jog, followed by a breakfast of fruit, cereal and low-fat yogurt.)