Proposed soda taxes have been in the media spotlight recently. The question that always seems to pop up when we read or hear about soda taxes is: will they have any effect on reducing obesity? Lyndon Carew, a recently retired University of Vermont professor of nutrition who now teaches online courses in nutrition, asked the same question in his opinion piece published in the Burlington Free Press.
Carew highlights research published by Jason Fletcher, an economist at the University of Wisconsin, that shows “extra sales taxes on soda may not do anything to improve people's health."
So instead of pushing out ineffective and misguided policies to address the nation’s obesity challenge, Carew recommends a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to combating obesity:
“I would rather see a major effort put into nutrition education in schools, homes, work places and communities before subjecting people to an excise tax.”
Carew further states that, “it is doubtful that sugar sweetened beverage taxes would be used mainly for health benefits, although they can be of great benefit to politicians….As I write this, laws are being proposed that Vermont taxes from sugar sweetened beverage be used to offset lower payroll taxes, not for education.”
We agree. Soda taxes are not the answer to addressing the complex issue of obesity. If we want to get serious about obesity, it starts with education – not laws and regulation.
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