The debate around beverage taxes reminds us of Einstein's definition of insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Taxes on beverages do not improve public health and they have been shown to have no effect on obesity.
In a recent letter to the editor in Irish Times, Kevin McPartlan, Director of the Irish Beverage Council, finds himself having to restate these facts – “Obesity is a complex challenge … It will not be solved by knee-jerk, quick-fix solutions such as taxation.”
Taxes have been shown not work across the globe – in Mexico the tax has an impact on families’ wallets but “no detectable impact on the body mass index (BMI), according to the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.” Denmark repealed its tax after finding it to be ineffective and economically costly. Here in the United States, Arkansas and West Virginia, places with longstanding beverage taxes, consistently rank as two of the most obese states in the nation. So why do activists continue to push an them?
We can make real, lasting impact on these public health challenges through education and public-private partnerships. McPartlan closes his letter saying, “the Government should avoid a sugar tax and work with us to provide real and evidence-based solutions.”
Read McPartlan’s full Letter to the Editor here.