Taxes on beverages are often sold on false claims that they will reduce obesity and make people healthier, but the fact is there is zero evidence to back up these assertions. What these taxes really do is raise revenue off the backs of those who can least afford it – working families and small businesses – while making no real impact on public health.
In a recent Cook County Record article, Scott Drenkard of the Tax Foundation shared that his organization “estimated such taxes largely place an economic burden on families with lower incomes.” Additionally, Drenkard points out that residents will find ways to still enjoy their favorite products without having to pay additional taxes – “when counties propose these types of taxes, it just pushes people to other types of beverages or to buy their choice of beverage outside their county.”
Even if people choose to no longer buy the taxed product, studies have found they will just substitute those calories with calories from other sources. A special report from the Tax Foundation found that “[s]oda and candy taxes do not necessarily decrease caloric intake. One recent study finds that when adolescents switch away from soda due to price increases, the drop in calories is offset by an increase in calories consumed in other food and drink.”
Once the fig leaf of “health” is pulled away, all that is left is a poorly-disguised money grab.
Instead of advocating for a measure that won’t improve public health and will raise prices on families, we should work to provide consumers with information on how to best maintain a balanced diet and give them the choices in foods and beverages to do so.
America’s leading beverage companies are driving a reduction in the sugar and calories consumed from beverages across America – engaging with prominent public health and community organizations in this effort. This includes doing the hard work of changing behavior in communities with some of the highest obesity rates in the country, such as the Mississippi Delta and rural Alabama. We’re providing the new beverage options, information and encouragement to help people cut back on calories and sugar.
America’s beverage companies are engaged in public health issues because we, too, want a strong healthy, America. To learn more about how America’s beverage companies are rolling up their sleeves and working hard to change behaviors that lead to obesity visit balanceus.org.