It doesn’t matter where they are tried, taxes singling out one item in the grocery cart fail to make people healthier, according to Canadian think tank Fraser Institute.
The think tank says evidence shows food and beverage taxes in the United States, Europe and Mexico “have been largely ineffective and have produced a number of unintended consequences.”
One of the reasons is that any calorie reduction caused by taxes is generally offset with calories from other foods and beverages that aren’t taxed. In fact, Yale researchers found that people may even consume more calories as they substitute the taxed items with higher calorie foods and beverages.
The Fraser Institute also points to a tax on saturated fat in Denmark that was quickly repealed because it was such a failure – “when the tax was introduced, Danish consumers simply crossed the border into Germany to purchase their preferred products.”
Besides being ineffective, food and beverage taxes hit low-income people the hardest. The Fraser Institute says these taxes are regressive because “lower-income Canadians spend higher portions of their income on the types of beverages that the tax would apply to.”
Instead of pursuing taxes that have no impact on public health, we should work together to advance real and lasting solutions. This starts with educating people about the entire diet and how they can achieve and maintain a balanced lifestyle.