Monday, December 15, 2008

Obesity Tax for Sodas


I read that Gov. Paterson in New York has proposed a 15% obesity tax for soft drinks as part of his budget for the state. He would limit this to "non-diet" soft drinks and it would generate $404 million a year. Juice, bottled water and diet drinks would be exempt.

This is the first time I have heard of a "sin tax" for these products that are empty calories. Public health officials have applauded the proposal, saying it would help the fight against childhood obesity.

Some kids and adults drink soft drinks instead of water. Enough soda pop is produced each year to give 557 cans (12 oz) to every man, woman and child in America. Composed of high-fructose corn syrup, these drinks cause a lower intake of numerous vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber and are loaded with empty sugar calories. They also contain caffeine and Yellow dye No. 5.

California, Tennessee, Arizona, Philadelphia and New York City have banned soft drinks from being sold at middle school and high school. Elsewhere the vending machines are there for easy access.

It is time to put some teeth behind the rhetoric for better health for the nation. We can't expect kids to have the wisdom to make the right choice when cheap "big gulp" soda can be found everywhere. Good work, Gov. Paterson. I'm sure you will be criticized for taking away someones personal freedom to ingest soda pop by charging $1.15 rather than $1.00.