The Berkeley, Calif., city-appointed commission on sugar-sweetened beverages announced that more than $375,000 has been collected from a city-wide tax on soda. That’s a lot of money being taken out of the pockets of consumers and local retailers. So did artificially raising the price of a common grocery item improve public health, as the city alleged?
There’s nothing to say so. The fact is that taxes on common grocery items do not make people healthier. What does is educating people about how to achieve balance in one’s diet and life – a balance that considers the entire diet along with physical activity.
In the past several years more than 30 cities and states have proposed soda taxes to tackle obesity. All have failed except for Berkeley, whose pro-tax city leaders claimed that taxes can solve obesity. But the record shows that does not happen.
A study by George Mason University researchers showed that even a huge 20 percent tax on soda would reduce an obese person’s Body Mass Index from 40 to 39.98 percent at best – an amount that’s not even measurable on a bathroom scale. States like West Virginia that have longstanding taxes on beverages are among the most obese, states like Vermont that don’t are among the least obese.
While studies show that taxes do nothing to improve public health, they do raise prices on common grocery items for hard-working families and they also harm local economies.
Instead of trying to find a quick fix to address the complex problem of obesity we need real action and a comprehensive approach. That is why our industry focuses on real solutions that have a lasting impact on our communities. For example, our industry’s Balance Calories Initiative launched last year will provide consumers with information and options to help them achieve balance and reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025.
For more information on our industry’s initiatives, visit DeliveringChoices.org.