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New England Journal of Medicine Opinion Column Suggests Ineffective Shortcuts to Solve Obesity Challenge

WASHINGTON, April 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to an opinion column published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, Susan Neely, president and CEO for the American Beverage Association (ABA), issued the following statement:

"We agree that obesity is a serious and complex problem. It defies both science and common sense, however, to think singling out one product as a unique contributor to obesity will make a dent in the problem. An NIH-funded study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine found that all calories count, regardless of the source -- reaffirming the science that balancing calories consumed from all foods and beverages with the calories burned through physical activity is what matters. And common sense is underscored by the fact that obesity rates were rising in America even though soft drink sales were declining for much of this decade.

Taxing these products won't make an ounce of difference in reducing obesity. But these taxes will inflict serious pain to hard-working families, who face higher costs at the store and the risk of losing their job all in the middle of a devastating recession.

Our industry directly supports more than 220,000 good-paying jobs with health benefits in communities large and small across the country and indirectly supports more than 700,000 additional jobs in communities.

Quite simply, the American public just doesn't buy these hapless tax schemes. Consumers see them as a pure money grab that will go to pay for budget deficits created by excessive government spending.

We witnessed this in Maine, where voters rose up to overturn a tax hike on soft drinks imposed by their governor and Legislature last fall, and in New York, where Gov. David Paterson withdrew his proposed tax hike on soda due to intense public opposition.

If we really want to tackle the obesity challenge, we need to work to educate the public - including parents, educators, health professionals and policymakers - about how to maintain a healthy weight. And we can do that by providing them with facts, not fiction."

The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.

SOURCE American Beverage Association
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