Calories and Bad Ideas

At our local Big Bird, we can get yogurt for 60¢ per container. As it so happens, there are 60 total calories in the Light & Fit yogurts. Thus after doing the math, one comes to realize that we are getting these for 1¢ per calorie. This seems to present itself with many great ideas, where by “great”, I mean “bad”. The one I would like to posit today is the idea that all foods should at least cost as much as 1 penny per calorie. So, for example, a Triple Whopper Sandwich with Cheese and mayonnaise would cost at least $12.30. And Burger King’s king sized chocolate milk shake would cost at least 30¢ more than that. We could therefore be using the market to force people to eat healthier, or at least fewer calories.

Now, if we want this to work, and for the benefit given above, we have to make sure that providers of food don’t just use it as an excuse to bump up all their prices. So we’d want to ensure that food prices are capped at a price of dC, where d≥1 is some fixed constant and C is the number of calories in the food.

To recap, I am proposing all food be priced in the range between C and dC. This has the nice side benefit for me that I would then be able to drink as much of the bottled water and diet sodas I want. There’d be the minor downside for “some people” who’d like to get their RDA of 2000 calories without spending $20 a day. To solve this, I suggest we change “Recommended Daily Allowance” to “Recommended Spending Allowance”. That way, their’s no confusion.

Or more. I actually am not sure which one I am going for.


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