A pop tax proposal to combat obesity
An increasing number of public health experts are calling for a soda pop tax as a way to combat obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, while reducing health care costs. Roger Feldman, a professor and health policy expert at the University of Minnesota, is a strong advocate for a pop tax.
He said that 34 percent of Americans are overweight and another 34 percent are obese. “Obesity is linked to many diseases and shorter life expectancies. So, it is the number one public health problem in the country – becoming the number one public health problem in the world,” Feldman said. “We know what causes obesity. One of the factors is overeating – or in this case, over-drinking. And my recommendation came, simply, as a way to solve that problem.”
Pop consumption has increased as health outcomes declined
Public Health Moment
[powerpress url="http://www.advances.umn.edu/audio/PHM-PopTaxLong.mp3"]Listen to the full interview with Feldman (6:26)
Feldman said that the consumption of soda pop has increased dramatically over time.
“For example, among children, it’s increased 500 percent in the recent period. Among adults, it’s the most responsible factor for our rising caloric intake,” he said.
Feldman added that the research is clear linking soda pop over-consumption to poor health.
“Women who consume at least one sugar-sweetened beverage every day have twice the risk of developing diabetes as women who do not drink pop,” he said. “Pop consumption has also been implicated in increasing the risk of pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most deadly types of cancer.”
Compares pop tax to success of cigarette tax
Feldman said he’s confident a pop tax would work, based on our history with cigarette taxes.
“The example of cigarette taxes gives me a lot of confidence that a pop tax would be a good idea,” he said. “In the United States, the rate of smoking has fallen dramatically in the last 10 years: From 25 percent of the adult population down to 20 percent of the adult population. The reason for the fall is that we have increased the taxes on cigarettes. And I think the same thing would happen if we increased the taxes on pop.”
Listen to Feldman on Public Health Moment