The American Medical Association (AMA) is considering a report which recommends using funds from a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to finance efforts to reduce obesity. The AMA’s report acknowledges that sugar-sweetened beverage taxes are ‘unlikely to significantly impact the prevalence of obesity and other adverse outcomes.” As we’ve said before, taxes don’t make people healthier.
Our industry fully supports comprehensive approaches to combating obesity including education, diet and exercise; however, funding these programs through discriminatory taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages is misguided. Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages-including soft drinks, juice drinks, flavored waters and other beverages-make up only 7 percent of calories, on average, in the American diet, according to a National Cancer Institute analysis of government data submitted to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Singling out sugar-sweetened beverages misses 93 percent of calories from other sources. Furthermore, the average calories per serving from beverages decreased 23 percent due in large part to the innovation of more low- and zero-calorie beverages, yet obesity rates continued to rise.
Importantly, the beverage industry is committed to working with key stakeholders like former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama on solutions that will have a lasting and meaningful impact on obesity. We have already taken significant steps from the Clear on Calories initiative to School Beverage Guidelines and we continue delivering more no- and low-calorie beverage options.
Science proves and real world evidence demonstrates: taxes don’t make people healthy. Comprehensive approaches to diet and exercise do.