Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blaming Soda ... Or Pop Or ...

Does Soda Cause Obesity? If it doesn't, why would we tax it? Or ban the use of food stamps for it?

Lack Of Findings For The Association Between Obesity Risk And Usual Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption In Adults – A Primary Analysis Of Databases Of CSFII-1989–1991, CSFII-1994–1998, NHANES III, And Combined NHANES 1999–2002, Food And Chemical Toxicology, 2007
"Conclusion: multiple lifestyle factors and higher dietary fat intake were significantly associated with obesity risk. Populations who frequently consumed sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), primarily HFCS* sweetened beverages, did not have a higher obesity rate or increased obesity risk than that of populations which consumed SSB infrequently."
* High-fructose corn syrup
If we're going to tax a food to combat the obesity epidemic - the stated reason for taxing soda - why don't we tax a food that is associated with obesity? The study above found dietary fat is a likely culprit.

I don't mean to play study ping pong here. I'm not for taxing any food. I just think there are other, likely political, reasons for singling out soda.

Reducing access to food, whether through taxes or other disincentives, affects lower income people disproportionately. Because everyone needs food. This is the definition of a regressive tax. I think the sales tax is another example of a regressive tax. (But I'm not an economist so don't pummel me.) The sales tax may appear on the surface to be equitable ... the same 6% for everyone (in PA at least). But in reality it uses up a greater portion of a low-income person's buying-basket than a high-income person's basket.

I'm not defending multi-billion-dollar food corporations' buck-making off of cheap, high-profit, often subsidized food. Indeed, as Ronald said, why don't we tax them instead? Use the money to offset tax breaks for businesses that provide affordable, fresher, healthier food in underserved communities?

Soda may not be the healthiest thing we ingest, but there's no reason the poor should be burdened more by these proposals.

Click to enlarge.


caulfieldkid said...


I've lived in some states that tax food and others that don't (I'm currently being taxed for all things edible). How about your neck of the woods?

I don't like taxes, but taxing food seems especially insulting.


Bix said...

We have a 6% sales tax here in PA; it doesn't apply to most food but it does apply to soda. It's 8% in the city of Philadelphia. Our Phila. mayor wanted to add another 2 cents per ounce tax onto sweetened drinks. It was very controversial; I don't think it went through.

He needed to balance his budget but he made it appear he was doing it to make us healthier.

Raising money in this way is just, in my mind, widening the already wide and growing gap between rich and poor.

(The state right next to us, Delaware, has a 0% sales tax. A major highway that links us with Delaware is usually packed on weekends.)

anrosh said...

Cut the pop and the soda and bring in plain good water without the fluoride ! It will quench our thirst and will taste refreshing on our palate. Everytime we touch "food" and water and wants us to count calories there is something wrong with both ! That itself is warning sign

Anonymous said...

Singling out soda for obesity is silly, many fruit juices have more sugar and natural isn't always health

Let's be realistic, should we ban ice tea, powders, or any single ingredient, if you eat creamy foods all the time you will get fat, but isn't the cream, butter, fat natural

I agree soda is calorie rich and should be limited, but its attacked unnecessarily, its due to popularity, nobody attacks tomato soup as much despite salt.

Bix said...

"nobody attacks tomato soup as much despite salt"

Loved that line.