Populations world-wide are facing the public health challenge of obesity and are searching for actionable solutions. What does not work are discriminatory taxes that target one ingredient or product out of the entire diet.
Jeff Rogut, CEO of the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores, had this to say about beverage taxes, “Applying a tax to certain items because those items have an emotional association to obesity in the minds of some groups is not only flawed, it’s shortsighted and lazy. It’s also economically destructive.”
We’ve seen the economic consequences play out in Denmark, where they repealed their soda tax because local businesses suffered with nothing to show in the way of public health. In Mexico, their recent soda tax has only reduced calories per person daily by six calories. That reduction is so small it’s not even measurable on a bathroom scale.
However, when industry, government and community groups come together to educate, these efforts can have a real impact on obesity. Rogut agrees, “[b]etter health outcomes are not achieved by taxing certain consumers and placing additional burdens on small businesses…The only available evidence suggests that education, potentially in the form of wellness and awareness programs, is the most effective way to achieve improved health outcomes.”