Taxing Sugary Drinks

by in Food News, January 19, 2009

Does taxing regular soda seem fair to you? Well, New York Governor Patterson thinks it might help. With one in four New Yorkers under the age of 18 considered obese, Patterson is proposing an “obesity tax” to help change eating habits and funnel some extra money into the state budget.

This tax is targeting soft drinks because research shows sodas are one of the main contributors to childhood obesity. Patterson’s proposal is to add a 15% mark-up on all non-diet drinks sold in New York. This would include popular drinks such as Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and Snapple beverages. You might pay $1 for a Diet Coke, but pick up its full-calorie cousin and that’s $1.15.

I have experience counseling obese children in New York, and I’ve seen first hand that soda drinking is high with kids. Typically during a visit, I help a kid set a few goals. The first step is changing to non-calorie beverages — water and seltzer primarily and then supplementing that with diet sodas and sugar-free beverages in moderation (no more than one cup per day). I’ve seen kids make this simple switch and lose a few pounds within a couple of weeks. It’s really amazing what a small change like this can do.

What are your thoughts on the “obesity tax” proposal? Do you think we can get people to give up those high calorie, sugary drinks?

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Comments (4)

  1. Lindsay says:

    I don’t think this tax will really keep people from drinking what they want. It’s kind of like smoking…cigarette prices keep going up, but people still smoke, even though there is so much information out there stating that smoking is bad. Same idea here. It might be slightly more inconvenient, but people will still drink a coke.

  2. Diane says:

    I will have to agree that the price is not going to stop people from drinking soda.Coming from experience I used to consume a great amount of soda during a days time. I gave up soda and replaced it with water. Soda drinkers would be amazed of have much better they would feel by giving up selecting the healther choice.

  3. Lisa says:

    I agree with the other comments. That little of a tax amount won’t prevent people from drinking soda. However, if the money made off the tax can continue to help educate others on the benefits then I think it is a good thing. I gave up soda a couple of weeks ago and switched to water. I can’t believe how much better I feel already.

  4. Amy-Troy NY says:

    The obesity crisis is due to expensive healty food and the decreased spending in our schools on sports and other healthy activities.
    It would be more beneficial to see the prices go down on healthy food(fruit, veggies,whole grain items, etc…)It is less expensive to eat junk than to eat healthy, even with this new ‘tax’.
    I am a single parent, with one income and two children and I do not qualify for food assistance. I do my best to feed my family healthy, but most times, the raw, healthier food does not fit into my budget.
    My opinion is that Gov. Patterson needs to think a bit more outside the box to come up with a more creative and beneficial solution for all NY-ers!
    Taxing us to death in this poor economy will get us nowhere…

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