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NY governor proposes tax on pop

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD

According to yesterday’s news, the Governor of New York has proposed an 18% tax on non-diet drinks and drinks containing less than 70% real fruit juice. The tax, coined rather inappropriately, the “obesity tax”, will mean that while a diet coke costs $1.00, a regular coke of the same size may cost up to $1.18. Exempt from the tax would be milk, fruit juice, diet soda, and water.

The naive prediction is that this tax will reduce consumption of high-calorie drinks by about 5% and help to reduce New York’s obesity levels. The more prominent reason behind the tax is likely to raise over $400 million in the following year and thus help reduce the state’s $15 billion deficit.

This proposal is interesting given that the American Medical Association has previously refused a similar proposal on a federal level.

As Travis and I repeatedly mention, overly-simplistic “solutions” to the obesity epidemic are likely to be totally useless. Increasing the cost of pop by a few cents is not going to lead to substantial reductions in the prevalence of a condition which is influenced by a plethora of factors. Will we ever learn to stop reducing the obesity problem down to pop, a new hormone (remember leptin circa 1990’s), McDonalds, TV, etc.?

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2 Response to "NY governor proposes tax on pop"

  1. Yoni Freedhoff Said,

    I wouldn't bash fat taxes that hard.

    While I'm actually not supportive of fat taxes, the case that's usually made is that the taxes may be useful dependent on what's done with the money.

    Were that annual $400 million used to say subsidize lower calorie foods, pay the salaries of the restaurant calorie inspectors, fund evidence-based obesity clinics, create useful public health campaigns, who knows, perhaps it could in fact do some good.

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 2:14 PM

  2. Peter Janiszewski, PhD (Cand.), MSc Said,

    Thanks for the comment Yoni - and congrats on the number 1 Canadian health blog of 2008!

    You're absolutely right - it would be wonderful if the collected tax money from all the non-diet pop drinkers was used to fund the causes you mention. Maybe, there might even be some given up in research grants in the obesity area - or even better - graduate scholarships:)

    Unfortunately, I highly doubt these funds will be allocated in such a manner. While I don't know the full details of the story - most of the quotes I've read from the NY gov. seem to suggest the funds will be used only to pay off the deficit.


    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 4:52 PM


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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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