Dispatch: Soda Tax Runaround

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After unsuccessful attempts in New York state and Philadelphia, the prospect of a soda tax still refuses to die. The New York Times does not expect that to change: This soda debate is probably going to be around for some time. Cities and counties, desperate to find money to pay for schools and roads, are starting to see a soda tax as a way to raise revenue. The tax also appears to be one of the most promising ways to attack obesity, given the huge role sugary drinks play in the epidemic.

The allegedly huge role of sugary drinks as a cause of obesity is largely based on flawed data and advocacy pieces rather than sound science, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. But this is a good excuse for politicians to tax currently disfavored products like soda, so they have jumped on the bandwagon.

The conversation frequently shifts from claims about fighting obesity to admitting that they just want to raise money, says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. They have learned to anticipate our argument that juice contains just as much sugar as soda by saying that juice is more nutritious, but soda companies have figured out how to infuse their drinks with nutrients as well. It s one thing if they re just after money, but you simply cannot target one source of calories as a cause of obesity.