At a press conference in Washington, D.C. this week, the four co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative shared details of their proposal to improve the nation’s physical health and lower health care costs. Many of the recommendations receive broad, bipartisan support such as healthier lunch options at schools, preventative care services and greater education about early childhood development.
The panel was asked about the omission of a soda tax by a member of the audience during the question and answer session, and the responses from the co-chairs were refreshing.
Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton, warned against over-regulation as a means of changing behavior, advocating as a better alternative, incentives that encourage people to maintain healthy, active lifestyles.
Mike Leavitt, former Governor or Utah and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, sounded a similar refrain adding that it’s not possible to tax or regulate our way out of the obesity epidemic in America.
Dan Glickman, former Representative from Kansas and Secretary of Agriculture under President Clinton concluded there’s insufficient data to conclude that taxing soda or snack foods has an impact on obesity.
Each of the co-chairs has their own political and ideological viewpoints on substantive policy issues. But on the matter of how best to tackle the impact of obesity on American society, they agree that taxing soda is not effective public policy.