Press Release

Consumer Group Says Taxing Soda Won’t Cure Obesity

Washington – Today the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) disputed the findings of a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) advocating for taxes on soda pop.

The report, which appears online today in the NEJM, argues that taxing sugar-sweetened beverages would improve America’s nutrition while creating a large revenue source from taxes to help alleviate healthcare costs associated with nutrition related diseases. But, CCF points to a number of studies showing that the kinds of taxes proposed by the report’s authors do nothing to address the problem of obesity.

Dr. Frank Chaloupka, a co-author of the NEJM report, recently co-authored another study with Dr. Lisa Powell, published in The Milbank Quarterly, in which they determined that more research was needed “to be able to draw strong policy conclusions regarding the effectiveness of fiscal-pricing interventions aimed at reducing obesity.” Though no ground breaking research has appeared since Chaloupka’s March 2009 study, he has now apparently reversed his decision after signing on to this report.

The math presented in the report does not effectively demonstrate how their proposed tax increase would decrease obesity in society. An analysis this year concluded that, to actually make a dent in the obesity rates, Congress would need a 1,200 percent tax on soda. That means a 75 cent can of soda would be taxed $9 -a tax increase worlds apart from the penny-per-ounce excise tax suggested by the report.

“The tax code shouldn’t be a tool for social engineering.” said J. Justin Wilson, Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom. “Nor should it be an instrument for penalizing individuals who make food choices that some people in government don’t like.”

In a previously released report titled “Why Soda Bans Don’t Fight Childhood Obesity,” CCF cites a wide array of peer-reviewed health, exercise, and nutrition research that disputes the widely held notion that sugar-sweetened beverages are a cause of obesity, and instead shows that physical inactivity is the single largest contributor to obesity among children.

To read “Why Soda Bans Don’t Fight Childhood Obesity,” or to arrange an interview, please visit or call Allison Miller at (202) 463-7112.

Founded in 1996, the Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices. For more information, visit


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