Soda taxes are often sold on false claims that they will reduce obesity and make people healthier, but the fact is there is zero evidence to back up these assertions. Yet, as Competitive Enterprise Institute fellow Michelle Minton explains in a USA TODAY recent opinion piece there is ample evidence showing that “soda taxes slim wallets, not waistlines.”
Minton points to the tax in Mexico as proof. “A survey of 8,000 households by researchers at Mexico’s Autonomous Institute of Technology found the tax had no effect on weight,” writes Minton. And on top of that, the tax has proven to be regressive, “as the revenue it generated came more from low-income households.”
In addition to real world examples, there are numerous studies showing soda taxes have no discernable impact on weight. Minton references a 2012 Cornell University field study in which half the residents of a U.S. city had to pay a soda tax. The study found that beer sales increased for the taxed group indicating that people will just substitute their calories from soda with other calories.
For further confirmation that soda is not driving obesity one needs to look no further than government data. Minton points to the fact that “obesity has risen while soda consumption declined.” Additionally, soda represents a very small portion of the calories consumed in the average American diet. And soda consumption is the lowest it’s been in 30 years, “yet last year obesity rates in the U.S. hit an all-time high.”
So why do politicians continue to push for soda taxes when all the evidence points to their ineffectiveness? Because they are an easy money grab. Or as Minton puts it “a sneaky way to extract more money from those who can least afford it.”
Want to learn more about why soda taxes are a bad idea? Visit The Truth About Beverage Taxes.