Obesity Activists Are All Fizz

Hold on to your sodas, kids: They could get more expensive if the country’s health crusaders have their way. Single-minded food nannies like Kelly “Twinkie Tax and Spend” Brownell have the government’s ear on soda taxes, and everyone seems to be ignoring the public’s resounding rejection of new taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages. But if lawmakers make the mistake of taking the health brigade at their word, soda could easily become the next tobacco.
Listening to activist groups like the hand-wringing Center for Science in the Public Interest, you’d no doubt believe that those sweetened beverages you’ve loved for decades is a one-way ticket to fat land. But it doesn’t really work that way.
As we told the Los Angeles Daily News today:

The activists’ playbook is fairly straight forward: Suggest a "link" between a product and a health problem, raise taxes on the product, and hope to curb its consumption – all the while raking in revenue, which is often diverted to other programs. …
The notion that taxing foods will improve our health is similarly dismissed by the considerable weight of academic research. For example, one university analysis this year determined that the government would have to tax soda at a rate of 1,200 percent – effectively eliminating all soda purchases – in order to make a dent on weight.

Taxing soda into oblivion isn’t the solution to the nation’s weight woes. And scapegoating soda is baseless to begin with. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a scientific review last year evaluating the evidence of 12 major studies. It found no correlation between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and children’s weight.
In other words: No single food or drink is a unique cause of obesity. Calories are calories, no matter whether they come from soda pop or avocados, and eating more than you burn is what causes the weight to pile on. So if the anti-fat crusaders really want to use taxes to cure obesity, they’ll have to tax everyone who overindulges in food. Including Kelly Brownell.
Is that what this is coming to? Grocery bills with a pay-what-you-weigh surcharge? Scales in every restaurant? Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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