NY Sen. Gillibrand argues against soda tax

Dive Brief:

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) disagrees with a tax on soda and other junk foods, saying that it is not the route to effectively change consumer behavior.
  • Her arguments include confusion among which drinks actually have the highest sugar concentrations and the fact that a tax would mean those who still buy soft drinks would have less money to buy healthier foods. Many dispute these arguments based on statistics and experiences with other areas who have instituted such a tax.
  • The soda tax has arisen amid rising concerns about an obesity epidemic in the U.S., which is particularly worrisome for children.

Dive Insight:

In her argument, Gillibrand says that determining which beverages would be exempt from a tax can be difficult, as juice often has as much sugar as soda. NPR reported that, according to the journal Nutrition, this may be true in some cases, such as with Minute Maid 100% Apple Juice, which has slightly more calories than Pepsi and Coke per liter. However, many juice brands, such as Tropicana, have a little less than half the grams of sugar per liter of Coke.

Gillibrand's other primary argument is that even with a soda tax, many people will still buy soda, so a tax wouldn't be the most effective option. The tax would simply take away money that people could use to buy fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, Mexico instated a soda tax last year, and as of August, just over half of Mexican public health survey participants reported that they consumed less sugary drinks.

Within the soda industry itself, the battle rages on between the two top competitors, Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. PepsiCo's original Pepsi brand just eclipsed Diet Coke for the No. 2 slot in the U.S., coming in second only to regular Coke.

Filed Under: Food Safety Beverages
Top image credit: cnunes62