We simply cannot tax our way to better health and New Zealand agrees.
Some on the island nation in the South Pacific were pressing Health Minister Dr. Jonathan Coleman to back a sugar tax to address obesity. Said Dr. Coleman, “There are no simple bullet solutions, such as a sugar tax, that will be effective in reversing these trends.’’
As the health minister points out, obesity is a complex issue that has many contributing causes that include diet, genetics, age and sometimes lack of sleep. Targeting a single nutrient or product does not change the behaviors that can lead to obesity or obesity-related conditions like diabetes.
The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key agreed, saying that to tackle obesity there needed to be “a combination of education and exercise." Both officials are basing their positions on science and common sense. In the U.S., consumption of added sugar has been decreasing, says the USDA, at the same time that the rate of diabetes and obesity has increased. If added sugar was causing obesity, the rate should’ve gone down.
Taxes on foods and beverages serve only to raise prices and harm businesses and jobs. The way to improve public health is to provide accurate information about how to achieve balance and encourage people to do so. The beverage industry is doing its part. We are providing consumers with clear calorie information and a wide range of beverage options so consumers can find the right fit for themselves and their families.
For more information on how the industry is delivering, visit DeliveringChoices.org.