Sugar drink tax won’t help
The Baltimore Sun’s recent editorial regarding taxing sugary drinks (“A healthy tax plan,” Nov. 28) buys into the flawed argument that common grocery items like sweetened teas, sports drinks and sodas are driving obesity and that slapping consumers with a tax will reduce consumption and improve health.
Certainly, there is real concern about sugar consumption and obesity, but to single out one industry is unfair and simply wrong. The reality is that taxing common grocery items has never been shown to improve public health. West Virginia, Arkansas and Chicago have had soda taxes for decades, and they all rank among the highest when it comes to obesity rates. Denmark and Finland abandoned their taxes on foods and beverages with sugar, salt and fat when they found they do not work to improve health.
Calories we get from sugar in beverages have been dropping steadily, down 39 percent since 2000, while at the same time obesity rates have been climbing, 30.5 percent in 2000 to 37.7 percent in 2013-14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s easy to see why. We get only 6 percent of our calories from beverages, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the same source cited by The Sun’s editorial. The rest comes from food.
So why single out soda for a serious societal problem that needs addressing with real solutions? Because attacking an industry is easy and working together to foster meaningful change is difficult. What works? Helping consumers. Government and industry and public health working together to inform people of the calories in beverages and all foods for that matter and giving them options when it comes to beverages — low- and no-calorie options and smaller portions — to make the right choices for their family.
The people of Maryland don’t need government bureaucrats telling us what we can and can’t eat or drink, and we certainly don’t need another tax.