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USDA says soda tax would cut obesity


A soda tax could slash obesity within a year. (Bigstockphoto)

Politically, soda taxes have never taken off. A DC tax that would have funded more healthful school lunches was killed by the Council in May. Last week, New York legislators, who had pioneered the idea, caved in to the powerful beverage lobby. Yet, evidence continues to mount that taxing sugary beverages could help to stem or even reverse the American obesity epidemic.

According to a study (PDF) released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, a 20 percent increase in the price of high-calorie, sweetened beverages, such as soda and sports drinks, could result in a decrease in the daily calorie intake of beverages by 37 calories for an average adult and 43 calories for children. That translates into an average reduction of 3.8 pounds over a year for an adult and 4.5 pounds for a child.

In the country where “The Biggest Loser” is a hit show, that may not sound like a lot. But it is enough to significantly reduce the number of overweight adults and children. Within one year, the study predicts, the prevalence of overweight adults could fall from 66.9 percent to 62.4 percent; the prevalence of obese adults could drop from 33.4 percent to 30.4 percent. The number of overweight children could decrease from 16.6 percent of the population to 13.7 percent.

The study points to two reasons for the dramatic shift. First, many people are overweight or obese by only a few pounds, and a small reduction in calorie intake could change their weight classification. Second, many overweight and obese Americans consume large amounts of high-calorie beverages. For example, 10.6 percent of overweight adults consumed more than 450 calories per day from sugary liquids. That’s nearly three times the average amount of 152 calories consumed by adults.

Moreover, the study notes, a soda tax could prevent many Americans who are currently at a healthful weight from tipping the scales.

The ERS report is not the first to suggest that a soda tax would be effective. A review conducted by Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity suggested that for every 10 percent increase in price, consumption decreases by 7.8 percent. The National Academy of Science and Institute of Medicine also believe a tax could help slash obesity rates.

Will the science ever persuade city, state or federal legislators? It will be a long battle. Proposals have failed in a dozen cities or states, including Philadelphia, Vermont, Mississippi, Kansas and Alaska.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  July 8, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Food Politics  | Tags: Jane Black, nutrition  
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Comments

Sorry its not the govt job to use tax policy to effect our behavior. It does not work. Take a look at prohibition. Govt needs to stay out of folks lives. If they want to smoke or be obese let them. Consume alcohol go for it. Only should a state or lcoal sales tax and not Federal and state sin taxes. BTW both of my parents died as the result of cancer and other problems resulting from smoking. If you are too fing stupid to stop smoking its not the govt's job to make cigs so expense you can not afford them.

it not the govt's job to save its citizens and non citizens from our own stupidity or immorality. Just butt out!

Posted by: sheepherder | July 8, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

The USDA report is not evidence that a soda tax will reduce obesity, it is simply speculation and predictions. The author of this article uses very sloppy language to get to a PC conclusion that she obviously supports: taxing soda is good for the fat idiots who are too stupid to stop drinking soda on their own. Her condescension is annoying enough, but her sloppy use of pseudo-science is dishonest. Predictions, inferences, and speculations -- especially those driven by a political agenda -- are not EVIDENCE of ANYTHING.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | July 8, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

You can ignore sheepherder, who is clearly an idiot. State and federal tax codes are filled with tax incentives (federal housing tax credit) and disincentives (cigarette tax). Whether you like it or not, Congress has a constitutional right to tax a wide variety of economic activities. If you don't like it, propose a constitutional amendment.

Posted by: yapeztufts | July 8, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Congress and state legislatures*

Posted by: yapeztufts | July 8, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Fat people just taste better. Their meat is moist and juicy. They cook up nicely to a crispy golden brown.

Scrawny specimens like Obama, are stringy and dry. Just like eating old beef jerky.

Posted by: veerle1 | July 8, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree Veerle,

I do find if you smoke them with a sop sauce made from cola, gives them a sweet crispy skin that's DELISH!!!!!

Posted by: andio76 | July 8, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I'll support a soda [or any other "sin" tax] the second they DIRECTLY link passage of such taxes to an equally oppressive tax on cosmetics, high heeled shoes, and other similarly useless items.

NEITHER class of item has a whit of necessity attached to it in the modern age, and both contribute to illness and injury, pollution, animal death or cruelty, and slave labor respectively.

Makeup leads to allergies and other skin issues, so by the soda tax "logic" it should also be a restricted use item to promote good health, and not sold to anyone under the age of 18.

High-Heeled shoes contribute to ankle, hip, knee, and back issues in persons wearing them over time.

High-heeled shoes are therefore an equal if not greater risk to a larger portion of the populace. They should therefore be prohibited use items as they are in no way a safer tool for walking or foot protection, and in fact reduce a woman's ability to flee danger, making them easier prey and more appealing targets for physical violence.

Additionally, all of the needless "tarting up" of women that use of either class of item [cosmetics or high-heeled shoes] engenders only encourages the objectification of women and furthers the traditional stereotype of women only being concerned about attracting a mate or significant other, further reducing the woman's credibility in the workforce.

Posted by: ThinkingMan | July 8, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

The proponents seem to be using overly dramatic words to describe people dropping about 4 pounds.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | July 8, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

"The proponents seem to be using overly dramatic words to describe people dropping about 4 pounds. "

Yeah, the funny part is you can drop 4 pounds by not eating for a weekend and running a couple of miles.

How about diet pop? Does that escape taxation if this is a sin tax?

And for the record, I don't drink soda pop. Too sweet.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | July 8, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

How 'bout a Federal Food Tax - on ALL foodstuffs: Dairy, Bakery, Candy, Meat (except the "other white meat"), and any other item with calories. Water would be non-taxable. This Federal Food Tax should prevent obesity in everybody!

Posted by: RWLA | July 9, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

"High-Heeled shoes contribute to ankle, hip, knee, and back issues in persons wearing them over time."

No, high heeled shoes do not contribute to any sort of physical ailment. They do no harm at all when they are sitting in a closet.

It is the WEARING of high heel shoes that contributes to injury.

You are picking on other people's "logic" so your own is fair game.

Posted by: frantaylor | July 9, 2010 5:53 AM | Report abuse

Last time I checked I couldn't find anything in the US Constitution which gave the US Congress the right to legislate behavior through taxes and the tax code.

It is no ones business but my own what I drink. If I want to drink 5 gallons of Dr Pepper a day to keep me regular since it has prune juice in it is my business and not the govt's or your business.

The govt needs to stay out of our personal lives. Its does not have the right to tell us what to eat and how much, who we can marry or what position and sex acts are lawful.

The most effective govt is the one that is the least intrusive in our lives. The current regime under Comrade Barry needs to realize they are not smarter than everyone else. Nor to we need Glen Beck rewriting US History and Political thought
so that the founding fathers become born again Christians. Washington, Madison,TJ and George Mason were not born again Christians Glennie. The Constitution was not based on Church sermons.

Its the parents decision when it comes to what beverages their children consume not the govts ever.

And remember a skirt can never be to short or a heel to high. To quote the great US philosopher of the last two centuries James Delaney Buffet "I am looking for a smart woman in a real short skirt a smart woman who knows how to flirt."

Posted by: sheepherder | July 9, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Since the added taxes on tobacco products did not affect the number of smokers, a soda tax will have the same, non-existant, effect. It looks nice on paper, but studies have also shown that people will cut other spending to continue to feed their habit. Even with the huge deduction in where people can smoke, there has not been much reduction in the number of smokers. It will only anger people, and it unfairly punishes people who are responsible consumers.

Posted by: schnauzer2 | July 9, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

This isn't science.

What's the experiment? Who's the control group? Was the amount of exercise kept constant in both the control and test groups? Was the total daily calorie intake measured in both groups?

This is an economic model that says a 20% rise in the price of commodity X results in a Y% reduction in consumption. You then get a figure of 37 calories a day which is trivial. (About the amount that people used to expend each day changing the channel on the TV before remotes were invented.) And has this model been validated for food and beverages, or is it something invented to predict the price of copper or iron ore?

To then extrapolate this to an average weight loss of 3-4 pounds is just ridiculous and is based on the assumption that human beings are identical to gasoline powered engines or electric motors.

The reason soda taxes don't pass is because they have no political support. It has nothing to do with people willfully ignoring some non-existent "science".

Posted by: corco02az | July 9, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Oh, my dear, sweet Frannie...

EVERYONE's logic is worth questioning, mine just happens to be properly supported [unlike the ankle knee or hip of someone wearing a high-heeled shoe].

" "High-Heeled shoes contribute to ankle, hip, knee, and back issues in persons wearing them over time."

No, high heeled shoes do not contribute to any sort of physical ailment. They do no harm at all when they are sitting in a closet.

It is the WEARING of high heel shoes that contributes to injury.

You are picking on other people's "logic" so your own is fair game.

Posted by: frantaylor | July 9, 2010 5:53 AM"

and what I said, "High-Heeled shoes contribute to ankle, hip, knee, and back issues in persons wearing them over time. "

It's called reading, honey...DO try it in the future before attempting to be clever...the TRULY funny part is you even quoted my line in your response.

It is THIS kind of "thinking" that leads to all you sheep voting for, or not protesting, sin taxes and other non beneficial and time wasting legislation...oh well, you all deserve what you get.

Or maybe the pain from wearing those high-heeled shoes is affecting your ability to think logically?

I anxiously await your providing ONE physical or mental health benefit garnered from the use of make-up and/or high heeled shoes.

How about, "makes me feel good about myself and my appearance"...oh, PLEASE try that one...I can't wait.

Item 2: Read the following and mull my original post, oh enlightened one...

Hyperbole- a rhetorical device in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.

Yeesh...I guess my original post must hit a nerve for you there Fran, huh?

Maybe you saw a little more legitimacy in my statement than I intended there to be.

Knocked you right off logical defense and into a elementary (okay maybe middle school) school yard level defense.

And now we'll pull back the curtain to reveal "the great and powerful Oz" of this piece...

I'm just trying to have a little fun while I make a valid point. I truly hope you do too (have fun) while you're mulling and responding. Too much anger in the world to let you get too fumed up over this but do look at things from more than one angle, k?

Have a great weekend! T.M.

Posted by: ThinkingMan | July 9, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

What about a McDonald's tax and Pringles' tax? Or how about we tax the existing fat people since they are fat and let the skinny people drink all the soda they want since they are not fat. And while we are ceding all control over to the nanny state; let's make a tax for wearing your pants too low and another tax for not agreeing with taxes!

Posted by: civilrightist | July 9, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

We as a nation do have a resposibility to regulate businesses and what they sell to people. We do it in many areas of commerce. This is because people are so greedy that they will sell a product to another human that they know will hurt them. We have to stop them from being able to do that. In the case of sodas, these beverages are harmful to the consumer, if they displace foods that provide benefit. Meaning if I have to choose between a glass of pepsi and 2 cups of salad to maintain my caloric intake for the day, I could harm my health by always choosing pepsi. If I choose both, I will, over time, gain weight because I am consuming more calories than I need.

The problem is that the sugary beverage companies use any means available to sell their products, greed over the good of fellow humans. The soda tax gets people thinking that maybe sodas aren't good for them and they could make better choices. If all it does is spark the discussion, it's done something good.

No one is saying you can't drink sodas, when you pay a little more for it, it's expected that you will think about whether or not it's really worth it.

No one is saying you can't drink sodas, really.

Posted by: fernva | July 9, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

This is from yesterday's George Will column which was a review of the new book, "Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition":

Before the 18th Amendment could make drink illegal, the 16th Amendment had to make the income tax legal. It was needed because by 1910 alcohol taxes were 30 percent of federal revenue.

We tax what we can. Soda is a big seller. It's not a necessity like actual food. But forget the promised health benefits. We need revenue. Tax it already.

Posted by: fran426 | July 9, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

If you are so opposed to a tax - are you equally opposed to a subsidy? Why not simply remove the subsidy for corn, in effect the subsidy for High Fructose Corn Syrup. If you are so against the govt telling you what to do - why would you not support stopping the govt telling us what to grow.

This would raise prices on more HFCS and high calorie products - not just soda.

Posted by: hathat6 | July 9, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

but Fran426, you're not taxing the calories with this type of tax...you're taxing the convenience.

If such taxes were directed at items including microwave dinners over a certain caloric (and/or sodium) level, all fast food, any restaraunt prepared foods not prepared to "acceptable" caloric levels [a whole new kettle of fish with the regulation "ready to eat" snacks (like chips, pretzels, candy, etc.) this type of tax would at least have the air of legitimacy about it.

It doesn't target those "health offenders" and therefore is ineffective at best, and basically a crock.

It simply targets the easy, convenient "lazy" drink options that are a nice source of revenue due to the instant gratification, hustle, and bustle nature of today's lifestyle.

If that is what the goal of the tax is, fine. Just SAY that. Why does the government feel the need to lie to cover up what they are looking to do?

There is NO legitimate science to back up claims that this will reduce obesity, and it could EASILY be argued this will make it worse, as poor families will likely buy more LARGE containers of soda (to pay less of the tax) and similar pre-sweetened drinks, making it a more common beverage in quantity at home.

NOT a way to make thinner folks, right?

Also people will just shop where they work or en route to or from where the tax is not in effect...how's THAT help the tax base OR the health of folks?

[That's a rhetorical question...the answer is NOT AT ALL...]

You want healthy people? Make healthy healthy choices as flavorful, cheap, and convenient as fast food and snack choices.

Until you do, you can tax things until you're blue in the face...but you'll just have fat poor people...and that won't really help the economy now, will it?

[another rhetorical question...the answer is NO, NOT AT ALL...again]

You want to tax something unhealthy?

How about Coffee? Especially flavored coffee. How about a 20% tax on Coffee [10% on decaf, 15% on half caf]? That will get some revenue flowing, and reduce the blood pressure and hypertension of the habitual drinkers.

And Alcohol [and I am a fan of spirits], 20% tax on that as well?

Of course then someone will need to replace all the jobs lost when the companies who produce and sell these "sin" items cut force or go out of business...so there's THAT to consider, too.

How will local governments feel when the soda and snack companies pull their plants out of jurisdictions that tax them to reduced profits?

Not a sermon, just a thought.

Posted by: ThinkingMan | July 9, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Sorry its not the govt's job to prevent you from being stupid and making dumb choices. I am sorry its my choice to drink soda, beer or bottled water. Bottled water is more dangerous than soda. It costs more than gas a gallon and does more damage to the environment. So is the govt supposed to tax bottled water so that you install filters on your faucets in your house or buy a Brita pitcher.

The should be no sin taxes at the local, state or Federal level just a sales tax. The govt should do away with Federal income taxe and just have a VAT tax or a simple flat non progressive tax.

Lets stop this crap about soaking the alleged rich etc. Or Comrade Barry lets tax the law firms 70% on any share of their settlement they get from a tort suit.
Plaintiff gets $30k and the law firm gets $5 million for their share and expenses law firm is taxed at 70% on whatever they get. They can't write off expenses.

I am sick and tired of paying Federal income taxes for everyone else's benefit.


Posted by: sheepherder | July 9, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

If the Obamanation is so interested in our heath – why are there still cigarettes????

Posted by: snowbucks | July 9, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

A lot of people are missing it. In the article, it states: "A DC tax that would have funded more healthful school lunches."

If school lunches are contributing to childhood obesity, the time has come to end school lunches. We have something called "Parental Responsibility" and if parents or the student themselves, can't make a PB&J sandwich, something is wrong. Taxing citizens for sodas is wrong.

Consent of the governed doesn't mean consent of some "health nuts." the power to tax is the power to destroy. This means fewer jobs in the form of stocking, driving and so on, which means even less in income tax revenue, which is probably a higher source of revenue.

The fact is these "healthful school lunches" cost money and guess who is getting a free ride? Check this out at the LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-summer-meals-20100630,0,6438591.story?

No more "blitz taxes" for the redistribution of wealth!!! How about enforcing parental responsibility, instead?

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | July 9, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Bullfeathers!! Unless they are made prohibitively expensive all this will do is feather the coffers of the state.

Posted by: fresno500 | July 9, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Enough taxes, we are already taqxed to the max.

Posted by: citigreg | July 9, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness:

Do you realize that you are complaining about the government helping feed poor children? What a terrible person you must be to suggest that poor children who need food during the summer are getting "a free ride." It is unfortunate that school lunch programs are not always the most healthful but that I believe is because unhealty food is cheaper and it is what appeals most to children. I live in DC and would have no problem contributing a few cents (via a soda tax) each time I buy a soda so that a program for needy children will have healthier food choices.

I also disagree with the poster who said that the tax on cigarettes has not caused people to stop smoking. In my state, one pack of cigarettes is over $5 a pack. It is over $7 per pack in NY (NY has the highest tax on cigarettes in the US). Many people I know have stopped smoking because it is bad for your health and it has become such an expensive habit.

Posted by: sdposter | July 9, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Thinkingman: I thought that's what I did say. Tax soda for the revenue 'cause there is so much of it being sold every day and it's not a necessity and not food. All of the proposed taxes are too small to have any effect on consumption, so forget about any health benefits. We need revenue and this is a fairly innocuous tax. Use it to improve school lunches or pay for police, whatever.

The majority has no problem with setting extremely high taxes for cigarettes since the majority of us don't smoke. It's silly whining to complain about a penny an ounce tax on corn syrup water.

Posted by: fran426 | July 9, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

USDA: The "D" stands for a word synonymous with "stupid," and "A" stands for a word that's a reference to your backside.

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | July 9, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

hathat6, I agree. Right now the price of soda is artificially low due to corn subsidies. Remove that and a) the government has more money and b) the price of soda either increases or they start using real sugar again (possibly both).

But it's very difficult to take subsidies away from well-funded industries. Much easier to tax individuals. I'm not even anti-tax. This is just pointless.

Posted by: dkp01 | July 9, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Demos have a committee meeting 24/7 to think of things they can use for an excuse to tax something. High on the list for excuses is 'Blame Bush' then they have the 'General Welfare clause and then interstate commerce. If repubs gain control, they should place a limit on both the last excuses and state exactly what they mean.
Taxes are far too complicated. Simplify.First $25,000 only deduction. No special things for special interest groups. Maybe term limits would do this.

Posted by: 1uncle | July 9, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Fran426, yes but that is not how this tax [or any other for that matter] would be administered. Especially long term.

Remember when state lotteries got approved by saying all the money would go to Senior Citizen's benefits?

How's that funding breakdown working out now? Yeah...

This [and all similar] tax money goes into a large coffer and only a SMALL portion is directed to a specific program or programs, usually ONLY if specifically designated as such, and generally for a limited period of time.

So unless it is specifically enumerated that this tax throughout its entire life is to be used exclusively for that school lunch program and feeding kids healthy options, and NOTHING ELSE...then it's garbage.

If after a year or two this money can be reapportioned for "other needs" or "shared as necessary" for "other vital programs" it's just an excuse to tax an easy target hiding under the guise of good deeds.

Again, look back to my first post on this silliness. Although tongue in cheek, it holds.

It would be far more practical to tax luxury items and note those monies for school lunches, health education, and teacher and public safety salaries.

Cellphones, MP3 players, DVDs, CDs, makeup, jewelry, high-heeled shoes, TVs over 27", sunglasses, portable computers, sports cars, expensive furniture, having food delivered, All viable targets of non-necessities. All legitimate potential sources of tax revenue and support these programs without disproportionately affecting the poorest families.

How about a tax based on the cubic footage of homes as excessively large ones are more wasteful to heat and cool so poor families have affordable utilities to cook these good meals?

Now, back to brass tacks. No politician in their right mind would boilerplate tax wording to make the resulting funds untouchable or immovable. It's career suicide, and a tax would never be passed written as such.

It has been said the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

How about we focus on making it profitable for the American farmer to make good, healthy food available at an affordable price to schools and low income families, instead of this foolishness?

How about we let farmers sell to schools, shelters, and low income families at a rate that helps the American Farmer profitable again instead of paying subsidies NOT to plant crops?

And require parents to be able to afford children before having them?

How many families feeding their kids boxed mac & cheese, or ramen soup have iPhones and big screen TVs? You'd be surprised.

How about mandatory parenting classes? So parents will know how to properly develop priorities, and help their kids make good food and lifestyle choices?

Any of those ideas will be far more effective to combat poor diet and exercise than simply taxing and hoping for the best.

Posted by: ThinkingMan | July 9, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

My comment should read ' No tax on any individual thing.JUST A FLAT TAX

Posted by: 1uncle | July 9, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

This tax is not just a soda tax. As with all other taxes which target a specific group of people, the people who pay this tax will have less money to spend on other things. Your company will not sell as much and will be forced to let people go or close up. This so called soda tax will be felt throughout the economy.

Posted by: websmith1 | July 9, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

sdposter wrote:

Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness:

Do you realize that you are complaining about the government helping feed poor children? What a terrible person you must be to suggest that poor children who need food during the summer are getting "a free ride." It is unfortunate that school lunch programs are not always the most healthful but that I believe is because unhealty food is cheaper and it is what appeals most to children. I live in DC and would have no problem contributing a few cents (via a soda tax) each time I buy a soda so that a program for needy children will have healthier food choices.

I also disagree with the poster who said that the tax on cigarettes has not caused people to stop smoking. In my state, one pack of cigarettes is over $5 a pack. It is over $7 per pack in NY (NY has the highest tax on cigarettes in the US). Many people I know have stopped smoking because it is bad for your health and it has become such an expensive habit.

----------------------------
Please allow me to retort-

>>Do you realize that you are complaining about the government helping feed poor children?<<

I know a number of "defined" poor people, who grew-up without a free lunch program, including myself. They went on to be captains of industry, police chiefs, fire chiefs and so forth. The one thing we did learn from being "poor," incentivized us to get out of that pit, through something called a work ethic. Today we are feeding everybody, including illegal citizens at the expense of those who came here legally and those who are US Citizens.

Taxing citizens to pay to enable others not to assume their own personal responsibilities is not only wrong, it enables the next generation.

Feel free to make donations to the food kitchens and food banks. I do, because by the time administrave expenses are incurred by the government, there is next to nothing for "the poor people."

As far as the NY tobacco tax, watch interstate sales pick up, FAST and tax revenues to NY drop.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | July 9, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

This has nothing whatsoever to do with cutting obesity. It has everything to do with finding new ways to promote taxation.

The U.S. government has become a malignant cancer.

Posted by: HostileKnowledge | July 9, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Why not just cut the sugar subsidy, tax imports, and let the price rise?

Then everything from evil soft drinks to holy communion wine will increase in price. They won't sell as many sugary drinks, but the increased cost of sugar will allow the sugar substitutes (saccarine, nutra-sweet, and splenda) to drift higher.

Posted by: blasmaic | July 9, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I wish that these articles would make a distinction between regular sodas and diet drinks. Diet sodas shouldn't be taxed to protect us against sugar they don't contain, obviously.

Posted by: geneven | July 9, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Why not just cut the government subsidy of corn that is grown to make cheap corn syrup so snack foods and sugary beverages can be sold on the cheap?

You and I pay our taxes to these farmers to grow corn that is inedible as a whole food - it is only used in cheap snack foods and sweet drinks.

When it comes to soft drinks, the government is already in our pocketbook. Why? The Snack Foods Association and beverage lobby are big political contributors. Without public financing of elections, we don't stand a chance of Congress making policy for the people.

Posted by: trace1 | July 9, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

sheepherder says "if they want to smoke or be obese, let them."

Unfortunately, my insurance premiums are astronomical and my family is in excellent health.

We all pay, one way or another, for the obesity epidemic.


Posted by: trace1 | July 9, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

This is sad...really sad.

Has anyone checked what it means to be "obese"?? Gov Schwarzenegger has been obese his entire adult life. I'm 60 years old, 6'2", weigh 240 pounds, have a 54 inch chest and wear 38 x 34 pants, yet I'm considered "obese". I still can run a mile in under eight minutes, yet I'm "obese". My blood pressure is 115 / 70, yet I'm "obese".

I hike and/or bike daily. Due to my body frame, I don't believe I could lose very much weight.

BMI is a lot of crap in my opinion. The fact that I'm included in statistics as "obese" is crap.

The point is....this is just another government "measurement" that should be considered questionable. (Does anyone really really believe the CPI? Does anyone believe that there hasn't been inflation in the past two years??)

And there is a good point...Why are we SUBSIDIZING sugar to the tune of $1.2 BILLION dollars a year?? So that we can pay bureaucrats to administer the subsidy, and hire some more to collect sugar taxes?? Is that our "jobs" strategy??

Posted by: eeterrific | July 10, 2010 2:02 AM | Report abuse

I agree with hathat6, cut the subsidies and then see what happens to your precious soda prices. Soda, doughnuts, cereal, ketchup, nearly every processed food contains this HFCS garbage.

Posted by: HappyArmyWife | July 10, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

What a crock of 'sugar'...... What government clown thinks up the excuses for this constant attack on real working peoples income? And always for the good of the citizens! I'm not sure I can take much more of the government idiots 'helping me'. Does anyone know exactly how many Federal Laws are on the books? How many regulations are being passed by non-elected bureaucrats, or as I call them.... Leaches!

Posted by: gunnysgt77 | July 10, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Question for all complaining about "Big Government:" Do you expect the government to pay for all of your health care once you reach Medicare eligibility? Are you going to be drawing from Social Security?

Less important for SS, but more for Medicare, studies show obesity leads directly to higher medical costs in the long run. Advances in medicine mean that obese people live for much longer than they probably should, which costs the American Taxpayer more money.

It is important to improve on our obesity rate in this country to reduce the spiraling health care costs. It has nothing to do with "insurance companies" and everything to do with people waddling down the streets drinking a Big Gulp and eating french fries.

Much like cigarettes are taxed to prevent people from killing themselves, the government needs to step in and use economic pressure to enact behavioral change. Mandating calorie counts, taxing high fructose corn syrup, and other methods will go a long way in making people think twice about that second Coke.

(For the record: I think we'll find out in a few years that "diet" drinks are actually worse for us than regular soda.)

Posted by: whitneyuevans | July 10, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

No one person NEEDS to drink soda, they just WANT to. You can live off Brita water at half the cost and still be healthier than the person drinking soda. It is a poor man's tax I agree, but perhaps by taxing soda it would dissuade many people from drinking soda, which would decrease the health care cost in this country.

Think of it in another way: by supporting soda drinking, we are paying taxes on the cost of healthcare for people who cannot stop drinking soda and becoming obese/diabetic. Yes its happening already. Its called your Medicare tax. Taxing the soda is just shifting the tax dollars from Medicare to soda tax. You won't see your medicare tax decreased, but you will see a surplus in our healthcare system

Posted by: logicaldoubtofhumansanity | July 10, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Reality is, all this "saving" people from their own behavior actually drives health care costs up because people live longer. It's called the law of unintended consequences.

Posted by: hdc77494 | July 10, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Those of you that think the government should be manipulating your eating habits should recognize the slippery slope you are advocating. Where do you draw the line between the loss of individual freedoms you despise, and those you hold dear? Once you cede your individual rights and authority to the government, they will continually push the limits, taking more and more rights away from you. Those on the right aren't rejecting the idea that soda is bad for you, we are rejecting the notion that any of us should allow the government to have that much power over us. An easy example from today's news, it's against the law to pump your own gas in New Jersey. Everybody, including the working poor, are paying extra for fuel every day just to add a few minimum wage jobs. Just about everything the government does distorts markets and drives up costs, along with creating opportunities for corruption be letting the government rather than the government pick winners and losers. Wake up before it's too late.

Posted by: hdc77494 | July 10, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

A tax does nothing to educate people on how to eat. The problem lies with allowing children to eat mostly garbage in the first place and then letting them use TV and computers as their sole entertainment rather than encouraging them to be active and play outside.

How about apples, oranges and water instead of chips and soda and maybe a little tag outside with the neighbor kids instead of non-stop video games?

Posted by: DonnaUetz | July 10, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I am not a soda drinker and never have been, but This is so obsurd. Watch out, soda today frappicino and koolaid tomorrow. The government would rather fill out bodies with artificial sweetners instead of getting people up and moving toward health and wellness. Next they will be taxing butter and bacon and heavy cream, because of the type of fats they are. When will enough be enough. When will our people stand up and say I am not going to take this heavy taxation anymore. Come on people let's determine our own futures instead of relying on the govenment for every single thing we do and can even put in our mouths. Besides this is a big joke, if they think people will stop drinking their coke. If this type of legislature ever passes you could even forget christmas cookies because sugar would be follow close behind. Let's educate our children and move toward a culture of well educated health conscious individuals, with all all liberties intact, not koolaid drinking morons who depend on the govenment to make every decesion for us.

Posted by: WellnessNancyRN | July 12, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

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