Taxing a single item in the diet does not make people healthier, especially when that item is a very small part of the diet. So why is the city council in Davis, Calif., considering such an idea?

Bob Dunning of The Davis Enterprise is asking that question and wondering why people need government to tell them what to eat and drink in their daily lives.

“Education is one thing, but apparently if it’s combined with punishment, it’s much more effective,” he says. “According to the Chief of the Diet Police, sugary soda pop is public enemy No. 1, replacing pepperoni pizza, Hershey Bars and frozen yogurt with four toppings.”

Health challenges like obesity result from an imbalance of total calories in vs. total calories burned. Targeting one item in the grocery cart isn’t the solution, especially when that item – beverages - accounts for just 6 percent of calories in the average American’s diet. Ignoring the 94 percent of calories that do not come from beverages is nonsensical.

As Dunning observes: “While the Food Police are out and about trying to convince us to pass a tax on soda pop, they may want to take a look at other things our sassy and sedentary kids are consuming these days.”

The fact is, beverages are not drivers of obesity or diabetes, so targeting them for health is misleading people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the number of new cases of diabetes increased by about 50 percent between 1999 and 2013. The obesity rate also climbed steadily during the same period. This occurred at the same time that calories from soda in the diet went down a whopping 39 percent since 2000. If soda consumption was connected to these conditions, the rates should have gone down not up.

Dunning says it might be worth voting for the tax to generate revenue for new crosswalks to keep children safe. But tax proponents routinely exaggerate the revenues from a tax by failing to consider how consumers react to local price hikes.

The tax will merely drive people to the neighboring cities of Dixon or Woodland for cheaper prices, and when they go to those cities for beverages, they’ll shop there for the rest of their groceries too. That will hurt Davis’s grocery stores and numerous other small businesses.

Instead, why not give citizens information and choices to achieve a balanced lifestyle? That is what the beverage industry is helping to do, by putting clear calorie information on the front of all its products and producing more lower- and no-calorie products than ever.

So don’t buy into the deceptions of the food activists Davis. A tax won’t improve public health, it will only drive people to shop outside of your community and raise grocery bills on those who don’t.

To learn more about why these taxes won’t work in Davis or other cities and states, visit