Soda Tax =/= Obesity Tax

But it says something about our country that it’s being labeled an “obesity tax” and not a “soda tax”.1

It says something that the proposal exempts diet soda, even though diet soda has not been proven to cause weight loss and in fact tends to be more frequently consumed by fat people than regular soda.2

It says something that New York Gov. David Paterson isn’t proposing an additional tax on juice or mochas, even though the calories can be similar – or more.

It also says something that Gov. Paterson is arguing that taxing pop will reduce obesity because smoking has decreased as tobacco taxes have been raised. He’s thinking that will sell his solution.  It doesn’t; as noted above, diet pop is associated with greater chances of being fat, not with being skinny.  His parallel is also off.  Lots of skinny people drink regular soda and lots of fat people drink diet – or no soda at all.  I myself stopped drinking regular pop in 1985.  Why?

New Coke

New Coke tasted like Pepsi to me, which I’d always found too sweet, and regular Coke was off the market.  Diet Coke was closer to what I was used to, so I started drinking that.  By the time they came out with “Classic Coke” I found regular pop too syrup-like.  I still find it too syrup-like.

Ah, you wonder, but did I lose weight?   I initially lost ~10lbs when I quit drinking Coke.  It didn’t last.   In more recent years I’ve given up diet cola during Lent, without losing weight.

But there is a way to institute a tax that could, perhaps, be analogous to the tobacco taxes:  Recognize that fat runs in families.  Put a tax on fat people who have babies! We could even pay thin parents to have more babies, so’s to increase their proportion of the gene pool.   Toss in that would add an incentive to lose weight before pregnancy (ca-ching!) and that dieting during pregnancy is more likely to result in low birthweight babies who need lots of extra expensive care (ca-ching!) and you’d have a plan that would not only increase tax revenues but would even help stimulate the economy.

You think?3

1 My state has no income tax, so our sales and property taxes are the main forms of state revenue. In the 70s a sales tax exemption on “food” was passed, where “food” includes items bought at grocery stores but not at restaurants. Milk and juice are considered “food” for the purposes of the exemption, but beer, wine and pop are not. So I do pay a tax on my 12-packs of diet pop that I don’t pay on, say, milk.

2 No causal relationship has been proved between being fat and drinking diet pop – one may cause the other or not. It’s known that many fat people drink diet pop to avoid excess calories, while others choose soda based on sweetener preference, and still others don’t like carbonation.

3 Yes, the sarcasm is strong today.






7 responses to “Soda Tax =/= Obesity Tax”

  1. Mike Harmon Avatar

    Nice site. There’s some good information on here. I’ll be checking back regularly.

  2. vesta44 Avatar

    I’ve been drinking diet soda for 32 years now and it sure hasn’t made me thin. I don’t think it’s what kept me fat either, since back when I started drinking diet soda it had saccharine in it instead of aspartame. I drink it because it’s not as sickly sweet as regular soda. I also don’t drink sugared iced tea (I use one packet of Sweet N Low in a whole gallon of iced tea). So that tax on regular soda wouldn’t affect me at all, even if I lived in New York. I also don’t drink fruit juices because they’re too sweet, and anything that is touted as sugar-free (those flavors added to water) have way too much sweetener in them for me. When I drink something, I want flavor, not sugar water (I bought a sugar-free raspberry green tea flavor to add to water, and ended up throwing it out because it didn’t have much raspberry flavor, didn’t taste like tea, but did taste like I’d added 3 or 4 cups of sugar to 2 quarts of water….YUCK!). This tax is a misguided effort to raise money while blaming fat people for the same things that thin people do, but because thin people don’t get fat doing them, it’s okay. Way to make thin people even more pissed at teh fattiez because now they have to pay more for their sugared sodas, all in the name of preventing teh dreaded “OMGOBESITY!1!!” Just what we need, more stigmatization and hatred thrown at us (yeah, right).

  3. sauvage1983 Avatar

    I pretty much gave up soda entirely. I drank diet soda for a long time, due to always having it in the house growing up and therefore finding the sugary stuff too sweet. In August, however, my mother had a tumor removed from her kidney. She had consumed about 4 big-gulp type containers of diet coke a day for as long as I can remember, and I’m 25. I am not saying with any amount of certainty that that is the reason—and obviously, that’s a lot more soda than the average person would drink—but still, I just didn’t want it after that. I started drinking mostly sugared tea, and have seen no change in body weight whatsoever.

  4. olivia Avatar

    i’m not a pop person either way. i am a big BIG drinker of icewater. milk with dinner, juice with snack, lattes when i’m out and about. when i do drink “pop” it’s generally iced tea, i haaaatttte carbonation.

  5. […] or corn-syrup sweetened pop at parties over the last few decades and ended up with headaches.  I haven’t drunk “real” soda regularly since 1985. Share this:TwitterFacebookRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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