Taxes on common beverages do not make people healthier, but some in California’s capitol of Sacramento refuse to face the facts. The Orange County Register editorial board reports that “the food police are back at it in Sacramento,” proposing a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
The truth is sugar-sweetened beverages account for just six percent of the calories in the average American diet. It is nonsensical to claim that such a small source of calories could be responsible for challenges as complex as obesity and obesity-related conditions. And federal health data back this up. The latest scientific data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the rates for obesity continued to go up steadily as soda consumption went down, showing no connection.
As if federal data wasn’t enough, multiple studies show that beverage taxes have no impact on public health. For example, the European Union commissioned a study on the effectiveness of taxes on foods and beverages in four EU states – Demark, Finland, France and Hungary – and concluded that these taxes resulted in no discernible improvement to public health. Here in the United States, West Virginia and Arkansas both have excise taxes on soft drinks and yet have continued to rank in the top 10 most obese states in the country.
To help reverse direction on obesity, our efforts would be better spent on public policies that educate people about balancing calories from all sources with physical activity.
The beverage industry is doing its part. We provide consumers with more choices, smaller portion sizes and fewer calories than ever before. We voluntarily place clear calorie labels on the front of all of our bottles, cans and packs and we are placing calorie awareness signs on more than 3 million company-controlled vending machines, fountain equipment and retail coolers nationwide.
“It seems people are perfectly capable of making health and dietary decisions on their own,” wrote the editorial board. We agree and America’s beverage companies are making it easier for people to choose what’s best for them and their families.
To learn more about how America’s beverage companies are delivering choices for consumers visit http://deliveringchoices.org/.