As we’ve blogged before, taxes do not make people healthier. That’s why when we see an editorial published in today’s Sacramento Bee that highlights Sacramento City Councilman Kevin McCarty’s soda tax proposal, we feel compelled to share with our readers why this is a misguided approach to improving the health of Sacramento residents.
Singling out soft drinks and other beverages for an additional tax will not solve the very serious issue of obesity. In fact, a George Mason University review found that even a 20 percent tax on soft drinks would only reduce the average person’s BMI by just .02 – an amount not even measurable on a bathroom scale!
There’s also real world data that shows us that taxes don’t work to improve public health. West Virginia and Arkansas are two states with an excise tax on soda, yet both states rank among the 10 states with the highest obesity rates in the country, according to the CDC.
Soft drink consumption has decreased year-over- year by 12 percent from 2000 to 2009 (contrary to what was reported in the editorial), according to Beverage Digest. At the same time, obesity rates have increased.
Additionally, soft drinks and other beverages are just a small piece of the average American’s diet – they only account for 7 percent of calories. That means that 93 percent of calories come from other foods.
The facts clearly show that sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving obesity rates. So, taxing them won’t work. They won’t make people healthier or even make a dent in the problem.
We hope that Councilman McCarty and other members of the Sacramento City Council will take a look at the leadership role our industry has taken on this very important issue. In order for us to have a meaningful impact on obesity and other public health issues, it will take all of us working together to reach comprehensive solutions.