Soda Tax? Boston Tea Party move over…

By:  Brooke Schantz MS, RD, LDN

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?

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1 Comment

  1. Torey Jones on February 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    It’s a fascinating debate and I can see all sides. Didn’t taxing cigarettes reduce smoking rates? Still, in the end, I side with you – it’s all about education so that Americans can make the right decisions for themselves.

    This was a great article that stirs an excellent conversation.