Taxing one product to fight a complex issue like obesity is not a solution that will produce real and lasting results. Why? Because obesity is caused by many factors but is mainly a result of an imbalance between “calories in” and “calories out.” Targeting sugar-sweetened beverages as a unique source of calories contributing to obesity just isn’t based on science.
But that’s what some lawmakers in Louisiana are proposing with a bill that would levy a 1-cent tax for every teaspoon of sweetener – including sugar, corn syrup or any other "caloric sweetener" – contained in a beverage sold in a store or restaurant.
Louisianans don’t get why lawmakers think they can tax their way to health.
“No doubt sugary soft drinks or sweet teas or coffees are a factor for many who are obese, but why pick only on beverages when clearly there are plenty of other contributors to obesity, “says Will Chapman of Louisiana’s The Iberian Daily.
Chapman points out that Louisiana needs to look at its entire diet, of which beverages are a small part, including “fried foods, boudin, cracklin, bread pudding, all sorts of dishes with gravy served over big mounds of rice and plenty more things we like to eat or drink that challenge our waistlines.”
If Louisiana lawmakers really want to tackle the issue of obesity they should start by providing people the information and education they need to make their own choices. Lawmakers should not mislead people into believing that if they eliminate one product from their diet they will achieve a healthy weight. We should be teaching people the importance of balancing what you eat and drink with what you do.
That’s what our industry is doing. Through our Balance Calories Initiative, America’s leading beverage companies have set a goal to reduce calories consumed per person by 20 percent nationally by 2025. They will do so by providing consumers with a variety of choices and the calorie awareness that they need to achieve a balanced lifestyle.
To learn more about how the beverage industry is working towards real solutions to public health issues such as obesity, visit DeliveringChoices.org.