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Most Americans oppose soda tax, survey suggests

3 commentsBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 13-Feb-2012

Most Americans do not support taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks, according to the results of a new survey published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

The study polled 592 adults from across the United States about their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, demographics, and their anticipated reaction to a 20% added tax on sugary soft drinks. It found that 64% of respondents said they would oppose such a tax.

The strongest opposition was from the obese, those with the lowest income, and the least education, while support was strongest among those aged 18 to 24, respondents who were normal weight or underweight, those with the highest income, and the most education.

The concept of taxing sugary beverages has been proposed on a state level throughout the United States as a means of plugging state budget deficits, as well as a possible way to fight obesity, and 33 states already impose a sales tax on soda. However, the idea has come up against opposition from diverse groups, for reasons including a disproportionate effect on lower income households, and questions about whether any one food or beverage should be singled out for taxation.

However, the survey found that 49% of those aged 18 to 24 expressed support for a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks, and whites were more likely to support such a tax than blacks, with 39% versus 26% in favor, respectively.

The researchers, from the Department of Health Behavior at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, found that 69% of respondents had consumed at least one sugar-sweetened beverage in the past week, and those who drank sugar-sweetened beverages averaged one a day.

Over one third of respondents said they would cut back on their consumption if a 20% tax was added, although the researchers did not provide details about the consumption habits of these respondents.

“Our findings suggest that an added tax on these beverages could influence some to cut down on their consumption, reducing their risk of obesity and related illnesses,” they wrote.

The American Beverage Association said in a statement that the survey’s findings were “no surprise” and that its view on soda taxes was well-known.

“We’ve shared our position on them – they’re discriminatory; regressive; won’t solve the complex issue of obesity that some in the public health community allege they will; and quite simply, are nothing more than a money grab,” it said.

There has been conflicting evidence on the potential effect of a soda tax on obesity, although a USDA study, drawing on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data, found that increasing the price of sugary sodas by 20% could cause an average reduction of 37 calories per day, equivalent to 3.8 pounds of body weight over a year for adults, and an average of 43 calories per day, or 4.5 pounds over a year, for children.

3 comments (Comments are now closed)

Most "Americans" oppose soda tax: "duh"

"The strongest opposition was from the obese, those with the lowest income and the least education..."
Now why would it be that most North Americans (excluding of course Canada and Mexico) are against a soda tax?

Aaah, there are more obese, poor or less-educated people than normal-sized, middle- or upper-class or higher-educated persons.

Probably the researchers from the Department of Health Behavior at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo have asked the wrong questions. (Strangely enough I could not find any reference to the soda tax research on the Roswell Park Cancer Institute site nor in the table of contents of the most recent issue of Public Health Nutrition..., http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=PHN)

Obesity is not beautiful or a sign of wealth but a poor man's (m/f) disease. Adding taxes to cigarettes makes people smoke less and live longer. Adding taxes to whatever contains too much sugar (in whatever form) will have the same effect.

With the money raised, perhaps healthy stuff, as Todd said in his post, can be made cheaper and more accessible.

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Posted by Hubert Linders
21 February 2012 | 14h21

waste of time

What a waste of our time and money. The rich people sit around and create these ideas cause they have nothing better to do. Some people enjoy drinking soda. I know I do. Maybe they need to lower prices on healthy stuff.

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Posted by TODD
14 February 2012 | 17h56

Soda tax ..long overdue partial fix for obesity

Time to diregard the foolish votes of our sugar addicts that hurt not only themselves but cause huge medical costs for society. First start by eliminating all fructose and replacing with sucose or sugar in soda, the main source of sugar calories. Then go after the huge cereal lobby forcing them to cut back on sweeteners with 10 % limit on total calories. Let's do to sugar what worked well for cigarets.

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Posted by Herman Rutner
13 February 2012 | 19h43

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