A new study by USDA economists concludes a 20% soda price increase would shed an average of 4 pounds in a year from the average American.
Given these reductions in calorie consumption, results show an estimated decline in adult overweight prevalence (66.9 to 62.4 percent) and obesity prevalence (33.4 to 30.4 percent), as well as the child at-risk-for-overweight prevalence (32.3 to 27.0 percent) and the overweight prevalence (16.6 to 13.7 percent).
In other words, the USDA believes we can cut America’s obesity epidemic by 3 percentage points – just by taxing soda and other sugary beverages.
Given the tax obesity imposes on everyone in the form of higher health care costs, the soda tax seems like a no-brainer, right? We do it with tobacco and alcohol – why not soda?
Enter the slippery slope argument. First, soda. Next, twinkies. Or, bacon. Well, no one would be insane enough to mess with bacon. But you get the idea.
The other side of the obesity problem is lack of exercise. As a commenter has argued before here on the blog, do we tax people who don’t go to the gym?
No one likes to be told what to eat. But as the evidence grows that obesity and overeating are a major challenge to America’s future, the soda tax proposal is low-hanging fruit. And it’s unlikely to go away, despite the beverage industry’s mightiest lobbying efforts.