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Would A Tax On Pop Reduce Obesity In Michigan?

David McNew, Getty Images

Obesity is on the rise and sugary drinks are often seen as one of the reasons.  Some want to reduce the intake of pop and other sugary drinks by placing a new tax on them and using the money to promote nutrition.

Would raising the price of pop decrease obesity? 

If consumers stop buying sugary drinks or switch to diet drinks it could help.  Then again, maybe not.  Some reports say diet pop is part of the problem. But who knows what drinks consumers might switch to?  Water is a possibility, but so is homemade Kool-Aid with extra sugar.

The biggest problem with the idea of a special tax on sugary drinks is…why?  Why drinks?  Why not candy?  Why not ice cream?  Why not sugar?  Why not tax people who don’t own a treadmill?

Why have the tax at all?

People make good decisions and bad decisions about nutrition and everything else in life.  The decisions should be theirs to make, right or wrong, without a special tax designed to influence them.

Freep.com reports:

If Michigan taxed non-diet soft drinks and other sugary beverages at a penny for an ounce, the state would raise about $490 million this year, according to the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. The tax might discourage consumption and the money could fund nutritional efforts, the researchers said. Still, moderate taxes elsewhere haven’t translated into big decreases in obesity rates in children or in adults, said David Frisvold, an economics professor at Emory University. Consumers might replace the pop with other calories.

We all have a choice to make every time we get a little thirsty.  Understanding how sugar and calories in certain drinks can effect our health is important.  Let’s take that understanding and make our own decisions.  We don’t need another tax to try to influence our choices.

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