Must-Read: The righteousness in Hobby Lobby’s cause
The Associated Press reports that a new study on how taxing sodas impacts obesity finds that it’s had little to no effect:
ATLANTA — Small taxes on soda do little to reduce soft drink consumption or prevent childhood obesity, but larger levies probably would, according to new research.
The study is being released as a recent wave of proposals would raise soda taxes or create new ones on sugared beverages. But they’ll have to be a lot steeper than current taxes, which are generally 4 percent or less, said Roland Sturm, lead author of the new research.
“Small taxes will not prevent obesity,” said Sturm, a senior economist at the Rand Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif.
Sturm and his colleagues used information from a 2004 national survey of about 7,300 fifth-graders. The researchers looked at how the children’s height and weight had changed over the previous two years and how often the kids said they drank soda and sports drinks. The researchers also reviewed taxes on carbonated drinks that were in effect in 2004.
Roughly two-thirds of the children lived in states that had a tax on soda greater than on other food items. The highest was 7 cents tax on each dollar’s worth of soda. The average was about 4 cents.
They found the taxes made no real difference on overall soda consumption or on obesity for kids overall. They did have a small effect on certain children — especially those from families with an annual income of $25,000 or less. Those kids — who drank about seven cans of soda a week, on average — drank one less can because of the taxes, Sturm said.
However, if the taxes were more like 18 cents on the dollar, Sturm calculated it would make a significant difference.
And he’s not the only one arguing that:
Most of the taxes tend to be enough to bring in some extra money for struggling state budgets, but small enough not to rile soda manufacturers or significantly change buying habits, said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
“Taxes have to be large enough to affect consumption,” said Brownell, who has called for a tax as high as 12 percent.
At last, a voice of sanity – from that same piece:
The Rand study confirms that small taxes on soda don’t reduce obesity, and offers no evidence that larger taxes would do any better, said Christopher Gindlesperger, spokesman for beverage association.
“Taxes don’t work. What does work is balancing the diet and exercise,” he said.
Imagine that. But no, instead we have to tax to death (or ban) every food/drink that supposedly “hurts” us, because apparently it’s the government’s job to save us from ourselves. What’s next? A 25% tax on a Big Mac?
And isn’t it interesting that these taxes are oftentimes used to make up for “shortfalls” in the budgets of various state governments? In other words, most of the states who implement these tax increases are depending on you to keep on drinking that soda and/or smoking that cigarette so they can bring more much-needed tax $$. In fact, taxes on cigarettes (which are just about to go way up in SC) and other tobacco-related products are, in part, how SCHIP is funded.
You really can’t make this stuff up.