Soda Tax? Boston Tea Party move over…

by Brooke on February 8, 2011

Post image for Soda Tax?  Boston Tea Party move over…

I have been in Washington DC for the past four days at the American Dietetic Association’s Public Policy Workshop.  At one session,  we had a great soda tax debate.  However, I don’t think we will be dumping any soda in the Boston Harbor anytime soon.  

It is true that obesity rates have continued to rise in the U.S. and now 2/3 of adults and 1/3 of children are either overweight or obese.  Sugary soda drinks do not contain any nutritional value and if consumed in excess could lead to weight gain, but I don’t believe putting a tax on sugary beverages is the answer.  Putting a tax on soda will not get to the root of the problem.  Americans will just find other sugary beverages to fill its place with like:  Kool-Aid, sports drinks, juice and alcoholic mixes, etc. 

As a society, we like exercising our right of free choice.  Is it fair for the government to impose a tax on what I like to call pop?  I believe it is the government’s job to help provide Americans with accurate information that they can use to make more informed food and beverage choices.  Registered Dietitians are the nutrition experts and a key piece to this puzzle!

Education is a better solution to the obesity epidemic than a soda tax.  For example, not all Americans know how to read a Nutrition Facts Label.  Some may see 180 calories on a 2 liter bottle of soda and not realize that that number refers to only one serving size of soda and NOT the whole 2 liter bottle.  Little misconceptions like this may lead to an excess consumption of calories and weight gain. 

What are your thoughts?  Do you think putting a tax on soda would lead to a decrease in obesity rates?

Photo courtesy of dibytes.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dagny April 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

This is a ridiculous idea for many reasons. It WOULD succeed in generating revenue for state governments if that is the real ulterior goal. But like the “Chocolate Milk” debate, vilifying one food item isn’t going to put even a dent in a complex, systemic problem.

Soda has never been so stigmatized in our society that people will view it the way cigarettes are viewed. When higher taxes have been imposed on cigarettes, demand has been seen to go down somewhat. People who were considering quitting anyway may decide to cut down or quit if the tax increase is significant enough to really hurt. But who worries and stresses over their soda consumption? Who pops open a bottle of Coke and thinks “Yeah I know this is gonna kill me someday but I’m hooked!”

I remember a research study done years ago that provided a supply of free soda to families to examine their consumption habits. As the supply of soda was increased, consumption rose. In fact, it was found that there was virtually no limit to how much soda people would consume!

I’m also forced to wonder. Would such a tax be only on regular soda and not diet? How about non-carbonated beverages that equal soda in calories and sugar content? When does the candy bar tax go into effect too???

I can’t imagine politicians wanting to go on record as having voted for something like this! “Save our youth from the scourge of Pepsi!” Yeah that’ll go over well.


Leave a Comment