A “fat tax” on New York City soft drinks is a food cop dream that may never die. Just two months after Governor David Paterson’s 18 percent tax on sugary drinks fell flat – very flat – nutrition activist Kelly Brownell and busy city health czar Thomas Frieden are at it again. This time, they put their heads together and came up with a penny-per-ounce tax on beverages containing sugar (including high fructose corn syrup).
Brownell and Frieden write in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine,
The increasing affordability of soda — and the decreasingaffordability of fresh fruits and vegetables— probably contributes to the rise in obesity in the UnitedStates.
Let’s assume for a minute that Brownell and Frieden can convince cash-strapped New Yorkers to change their minds about this tax. How much will slapping a few more cents on soft drinks “probably” save them in the calorie department? The pro-tax pair estimates,
[I]f one quarter of the calories consumed from sugared beverages are replaced by other food, the decrease in consumption would lead to an estimated reduction of 8000 calories per person per year.
We did a little math. Eight thousand calories a year amount to a little less than 22 calories a day. According to this calorie calculator, that’s the equivalent of a kid taking a 10 minute walk.
A penny an ounce or a 10 minute walk? We’ll let you decide which one of these plans is smarter.
But in the meantime, here’s a note to food police: People hate soda taxes! Just look at this poll. Or this one. Or this one.