Soda taxes have become a hot topic in recent months with plenty of misinformation swirling about. The USA TODAY editorial board has taken a hard look at the facts and concluded that soda taxes are “heavy on intrusion and light on impact.”
It is true that our nation is facing public health challenges, however no single food, beverage or ingredient is a unique contributor to obesity or any other health conditions. It’s wrong to mislead people into believing that a tax will make people healthy, especially when the data shows otherwise. But as the editorial board explains, “people are quick to see through ideas described as good for them but which make little sense.”
As the USA TODAY editorial points out, soft drink consumption is at a 30-year low while rates of obesity continue to rise. It defies logic to say soft drinks are causing the nation’s obesity epidemic when the less we drink the more obese we get. So when you really get down to it, “the tax is a money grab disguised as a public health initiative,” writes the Editorial Board.
If these taxes don’t make anyone healthier, they do make them poorer. Beverage taxes disproportionally affect low-income families who already spend a higher percentage of their income on food and beverages. Local businesses who rely in-part on beverage sales operate on thin margins. They cannot afford the loss of sales from a discriminatory tax.
USA Today reaches the conclusion that our “goal ought to be smarter consumers, not higher taxes.” America’s beverage companies are at the forefront of providing Americans with the information they need to make informed choices. In 2010, we launched Clear on Calories – our calorie labeling effort which prominently displays calorie information on the front of every bottle, can and pack we sell ––in support of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign. We are also placing calorie information on more than 3 million vending machines, self-serve fountains and retail coolers to make it easier for people to choose the drink that’s right for them.
Now we are working on the largest-industry initiative to-date to help reduce beverage calories in the American diet, the Balance Calories Initiative. Our goal is to cut the beverage calories consumed by 20 percent per person nationally by 2025. Using the industry’s marketing, innovation and distribution strengths, we will increase interest in and expand access to water, no- and lower-calorie beverages and smaller-portion sizes.
Obesity can’t be solved by targeting one item in the grocery cart. Instead it is best addressed through education and learning how to balance everything we eat, drink and do.
To read the USA Today editorial in full, click here.