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'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
Date:9/16/2009

erican Beverage Association said in a statement issued Wednesday. "West Virginia and Arkansas are two prime examples -- both have excise taxes on soft drinks, yet rank fifth and sixth highest in the nation for obesity rates, " it said.

"Taxing soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce obesity is simply the wrong public policy for such a complex problem," the ABA said. Instead of "demonizing any one particular food or beverage," the government should promote nutrition education, the trade association said.

Would a soda tax be just the first of many such initiatives? Not so, according to Ludwig, who stressed that he does not have "a long list of other products that I'm ready to suggest taxing."

"I don't think we can make the argument that ice cream has anywhere near the negative impact that sugar-sweetened beverages do," he said. "We believe this is in a class by itself. It is a very discrete category with no health benefits, very strong evidence of harm and high consumption rates."

Some other nutrition experts support the proposal.

"I think this would make an impact," said Marianne Grant, a registered dietician and health educator at Texas A&M Health Science Center's Coastal Bend Health Education Center in Corpus Christi. "I've been hearing a lot about the need to attack the obesity epidemic like we attacked tobacco and smoking, and the only thing that significantly reduced the number of people smoking was the price of cigarettes."

More information

Calculate soda taxes in different cities and states at Yale University.



SOURCES: David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, and director, Optimal Weight for Life Program, Children's Hospital Boston; Marianne Grant, R.D., registered dietician and health educator, Texas A&M Health
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