The Canadian Tax Foundation (CTF) says that policymakers considering taxing common grocery items for health reasons should look no further than Mexico and Denmark to see that such taxes don’t do what proponents say they will.
Christine Van Geyn, Ontario director of CTF, says that food and beverage taxes are regressive and “are not an appropriate tool for achieving medical outcomes.”
A study examining the Mexico tax on soda “found that the tax has resulted in Mexicans consuming between 4.7 and 15 fewer calories per day – roughly the amount of calories you burn flipping the pages of a newspaper each morning,” wrote Van Geyn.
And a tax in Denmark on foods higher in saturated fat also fell flat, says Van Geyn. “The unpopular tax lasted only one year, because it simply resulted in cross-border shopping rather than actual reduced fat consumption. They followed that up a year later with a repeal of their 80-year old pop tax for similar reasons.”
The evidence is clear – food and beverages taxes have been tried and they have failed to improve public health or reduce obesity as is their alleged purpose. Yet tax proponents continue to conveniently ignore this fact.
Science shows that public health challenges like obesity are complex conditions with multiple risk factors, including genetics, a lack of physical activity and the overconsumption of calories from all sources. Instead of making people healthier, food and beverage taxes mislead people into believing there is a Band-Aid solution to a serious health concern.
The answer is for industry and government to work together to help people heighten their awareness about how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and physical activity. This is how we can make a real and lasting difference in combating obesity.
The beverage industry is doing its part to educate people about balance and remind them to be conscious of their beverage calories. With our Balance Calories Initiative, America’s leading beverage companies are working toward a common goal of reducing beverage calories in the American diet nationally – specifically by 20 percent per person by 2025.
To learn more about our Balance Calories Initiative and our other efforts to help Americans achieve balance, visit www.deliveringchoices.org.