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President Obama endorses US soda tax plan

By Mike Stones , 01-Oct-2009
Last updated on 01-Oct-2009 at 16:12 GMT2009-10-01T16:12:29Z

President Barack Obama has lent his support for a soda tax which could benefit children’s health and the nation’s wealth, according to a new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Obama told the publication Men’s Health recently: "I actually think it's an idea that we should be exploring. There's no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda.”

A nationwide soda tax could generate more than $10bn/year if 7 cents was levied on each 12-ounce can of Coke or Mountain Dew, according to CSPI’s report.

Chronic diseases

In addition to making an important contribution towards paying for health coverage for all Americans, the tax would help to reduce the incidence of obesity and other costly chronic diseases, it adds.

CSPI executive director, Michael Jacobson agrees with the President: “President Obama is exactly right when he say kids are drinking too much soda. Soda is dirt cheap and promotes expensive and debilitating diseases, which in turn run up health-care costs at all levels of government. Federal, state, and even local governments would be wise to institute or increase taxes on a product that causes so much medical and financial harm.”

Americans spend about $147bn a year on medical expenditures related to obesity, of which half is paid with Medicare and Medicaid dollars.

The report, Taxing Sugared Beverages Would Help Trim State Budget Deficits, Consumers’ Bulging Waistlines, and Health Care Costs, follows mounting scientific opinion in favor a tax. Seven prominent nutrition experts recently argued for a tax on soda in a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Reduce obesity

Last month, the Institute of Medicine included soda taxes as one of several policies that should be adopted to help reduce obesity.

Also a Brookings Institution committee on health reform, led by former Medicare and Food and Drug Administration director Mark McClellan, issued a report that called for a soft-drink tax.

At present, only 25 states impose small taxes on soda and other beverages with added sugar, says the report.

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