How much blame goes to the beverage industry? NPR’s All Things Considered is looking into this topic (yesterday and today).
Many states are planning to tax sodas. Washington has jumped on this one, too. The taxes are mostly to help fill budget gaps, and way too small to make a meaningful health difference.
The man who’s studied this the most, and made it into a crusade, says the tax needs to be much higher than any state is considering: a penny-an-ounce. That would add 12 cents to a can of soda, and more than 60 cents to those 2-liter bottles. Kelly Brownell, of Yale University’s Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity, argues this would compel Americans to make healthier choices.
Yesterday’s NPR reports included a good overview from Jeff Brady, plus a pair of interviews by Michelle Norris. Several listeners told me they felt Norris was too easy on the beverage industry spokesperson.
Studies have shown a pretty strong correlation between soft-drink consumption and weight gain. And, the beverage industry response that Americans just need more exercise? Exercise is good, but it’s not a major factor in the obesity crisis and can’t compensate for the big jump in calorie consumption. The scientific evidence is pretty strong on that. But, nutritionists will also tell you it’s too simplistic to think that cutting down on sodas by itself will solve the weight-gain problem. It’s an important step, but there are additional dietary problems.