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Check the Facts

The science is clear. Research & data show beverages are not driving obesity rates—we should focus on real solutions to important health challenges.

“There is no evidence from anywhere in the world that soda taxes have any impact on obesity, let alone broader health outcomes.” –Guy Bentley, Reason Magazine

We all want the same thing: a healthy America. That’s why it’s important data-backed facts – not widespread myths – inform our consumption habits.

For example, many Americans once avoided eggs because “conventional wisdom” suggested they had unhealthy levels of cholesterol. Now, thanks to research, we know that eggs, in moderation, actually help improve heart health without raising blood cholesterol levels.

Similarly, we often hear calories from sugar are different from other calories. But independent research actually tells a different story. And, as data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention verifies, obesity rates have increased even as soda consumption reached a 32-year low.

Myths about foods and beverages don’t just affect our shopping habits—they also can impact the decisions of lawmakers. The taxation of certain foods and beverages can be one product of these myths, but these taxes are far from a silver bullet to fighting obesity and funding local governments. Once again, the facts demonstrate that’s the case. Consider the following:

  • Research from Duke University professors published in Harvard Business Review found the Berkeley, CA beverage tax had such minimal effects on consumption levels that the researchers “cannot be sure they even exist.”
  • An Oxford Economics study, produced in partnership with the American Beverage Association, found consumers in Philadelphia avoid the city-wide beverage tax by shopping outside the city or substituting soft drinks with sugary drink powders. Due to this shift, the city experienced an employment decline of 1,192 workers, or the equivalent of $80 million in lost GDP, as a result of the beverage tax.
  • A tax on snack foods and beverages in Mexico was reported to have worked because a survey said Mexicans were buying fewer taxed beverages. But obesity has continued to climb in Mexico, and average calories decreased by a mere 4.9 calories per day, an amount not even measurable on a bathroom scale, according to one study conducted by a supporter of the tax. While beverage consumption did go down the first year of the tax, it rebounded the following year.
  • A Tax Foundation study focusing on beverage taxes concluded “any form such a tax may take will be regressively distributed among the consumers,” and, “Furthermore, the trends suggest that these expenditure profiles have become more regressive over recent years.” If a nationwide tax were levied on sugar-sweetened beverages, about two-thirds of the revenues would be derived from middle-income households between $20,000 and $100,000, assuming these income groups would have similar behavioral adjustments to such a tax.

There is a better way to help Americans make healthy decisions for their families, and it starts with understanding the facts. We at AFBC encourage all stakeholders to take a fact-based approach to their dietary choices.

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