At Sip & Savor, we've spent a great deal of time blogging on the topic of soda taxes as an alleged means of achieving the public health goal of reducing obesity. Our position is that you cannot tax your way to a healthier lifestyle. Last month, we saw several prominent members of the global medical community sound off against a soda tax in response to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that supported the idea. This week, it was great to see yet another in the health community step up to make their similar position heard. Dr. Pamela Peeke, who holds a doctoral degree in medicine, a master's in public health and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, authored a very interesting article ("Can You Tax Away Obesity?") posted on The Huffington Post on Monday.
In her article, Dr. Peeke took on the concept of taxing beverages to solve obesity. In doing so, she also challenged the comparison of taxing cigarettes - which contain a known carcinogen - to curtail smoking to taxing soda to reduce obesity. Conclusion? "The health consequences of inhaling smoke into your lungs day after day were clear and indisputable." But will a soda tax solve obesity? "Of course not, and worse still, such taxes may have the opposite effect."
Dr. Peeke's article is definitely worth the read. While it may be her viewpoint, that viewpoint is based on her medical experience, published literature on the topic of sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity, and economics. Importantly, Dr. Peeke stresses that if we want to solve obesity, taxes simply aren’t the solution. As she states, "One food or beverage never resulted in global obesity … to drop excess weight we must connect our brains to our bellies and take responsibility for how and what we eat."
We couldn't agree more. Thank you, Dr. Peeke, for bringing some common-sense to the ongoing debate on this issue.