News Releases & Statements
ABA Responds to Archives of Internal Medicine Report Advocating for Tax on Soft Drinks and Pizza
March 8, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ABA Press Office - (202) 463-6770
American Beverage Association Responds to an Archives of Internal Medicine Report Advocating for Tax on Soft Drinks and Pizza
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The American Beverage Association today responded to a report calling for new taxes on soft drinks and other foods as a means of reducing obesity in our nation. Singling out individual food and beverage products, such as soft drinks and pizza, for a punitive 18 percent tax increase, as suggested by the report's authors, would not only be discriminatory but ineffective in achieving the noted public health goal.
"Singling out soft drinks and other foods for taxation in order to reduce obesity won't solve this public health problem and could lead to unintended consequences, especially for lower and middle income Americans," Dr. Maureen Storey, senior vice president, science policy, at the American Beverage Association, said. "Supermarkets, on average, carry nearly 47,000 items and the average 3- to 4-person household spends about $109 per week on groceries. Furthermore, the U.S. supply is extraordinarily complex. According to a National Cancer Institute analysis of government data that examined calorie and nutrient contribution of more than 4,000 separate food categories. Soft drinks account for about 5.5 percent of the calories in our total daily caloric intake. That leaves more than 94 percent of our calories coming from other foods and beverages."
In contrast, this study examined a small handful of 11 foods and beverages that may not be direct substitutes. For example, the prices of five alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, such as a 2-liter bottle of soda, one-half gallon of whole milk, a 6-pack of beer, a 1.5-liter of wine and a 1-pound can of coffee, were the only ones considered. For foods, only pizza, hamburgers, and fried chicken purchased away from home, steak, parmesan cheese, and bananas were examined on prices.
Imposing excise taxes on people's favorite foods and beverages will not teach anyone how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Nor is it likely to change anyone's eating behavior. And, it most certainly will not have any effect on exercise habits - the other half of the energy balance equation that drives obesity, Storey said. What food and beverage excise taxes will do is hurt families already struggling through a tough economy and their ability to purchase all foods and services they need. Studies show that soft drink taxes are highly regressive, hurting most those who can least afford to pay.
"If we truly want to reduce obesity, we need to inform and educate Americans about the importance of balancing the calories they consume with those they burn," Storey said. "Our industry fully supports informing consumers about the importance of calories by agreeing to display calories on the front of our containers, as well as company-controlled vending machines and fountain machines. Efforts such as these, that place information at the fingertips of consumers, will have an impact, along with education that helps consumers understand how to put that information into practice. Taxation merely wags a scolding finger and punishes."
"Taxes do not make people healthier, making smart, educated decisions about diet and exercise do."
The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States. For more information on ABA, please visit the association's Web site at www.ameribev.org or call the ABA communications team at (202) 463-6770.