The idea of taxing soda to trim waistlines has shown to be an ineffective way to reduce obesity. I agree that people who love soda will probably continue to buy soda. Several studies have shown this. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states where soda taxes have been implemented have the highest obesity rates.
And, an article published in January 2010 in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy finds that while an increase in soft drink taxes would raise revenue for governments, it would likely place an unequal burden on those with lower incomes.
If Texas really wanted to curb the obesity epidemic, drinks made with non-nutritive sweeteners, such as diet soda, would not be included in this soda tax proposal. Diet beverage options are good choices for those individuals who are working to keep control of balancing calories with energy expenditure.
I support policies that promote healthy behavior rather than penalizing individuals. This approach will be far more effective and sustainable in addressing obesity and improving health. By focusing on soft drinks alone, we are missing the bigger picture. A healthy lifestyle is about moderation, balancing calorie intake and taking part in appropriate levels of exercise, not a tax.
Debbie Mouser, MS, RD, LD
Registered dietitian and consultant to food and beverage companies Dallas