Politicians often try and sell soda taxes by claiming they will lower obesity and make people healthier.
In an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel, American Beverage Association President and CEO Susan Neely reminds us why these taxes do not improve public health.
“There could hardly be a worse way for government to raise money or tackle public health than by raising the price of one item on the typical American grocery list,” states Neely.
The fact is soda taxes have no real or measurable impact on obesity. Neely writes, “Americans see them for what they are: a money-grab that can be extended to a never-ending list of items on grocery store shelves.”
In Mexico, the nationwide peso-per-liter soda tax, shows us that soda taxes are not a remedy for public health challenges like obesity. Neely states, “a study by tax proponents demonstrated that the Mexico soda tax eliminated only about five calories per day out of an average daily diet of 3,024 calories.”
Besides having no impact on obesity, the economic effects of the tax in Mexico have been devastating. Some 30,000 corner stores have closed, resulting in the loss of nearly 11,000 well-paying jobs in the beverage industry.
Neely says, “Complex conditions like obesity require initiatives that focus on the entire diet, not on a politically expedient tax on a small portion of the average American diet.”
America’s leading beverage companies are committed to finding lasting solutions such as our Balance Calories Initiative to reduce beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent by 2025. This is the single-largest voluntary effort by an industry to help fight obesity.
If we want to get serious about obesity, Neely reminds us that government, industry and the health community need to start “focusing on what works rather than fighting over what doesn’t.”