Member Login
Blog Categories
Follow Us

Taxes on sugary drinks, but will it make the difference? Childhood obesity prevention strategies

Posted on Jan 19, 2009 by Maggie LaBarbera

A tax on soda and sugary drinks is being proposed in some states as a way to fight childhood obesity. In New York, for example, they are proposing an 18% tax on these type of beverages. But is this the direction we should be moving in our fight to improve our children's nutritional status.

Some will argue yes.

  • It will raise funds that can be used to promote healthier choices.
  • The added expense will make some people buy less because it will cost more.

Some will argue no.

  • It will punish soda drinkers.
  • It overlooks the importance of nutrition education.
  • It singles out soda when there are other foods that are high in calories.

No matter what side of the fence you sit on, it still boils down to nutrition education in order to make long term changes. Twisting peoples arms, or should I say pocketbooks, are only short term solutions.

Children need to learn about healthy choices. They need to understand:

  • about moderation
  • foods that are okay to have once in a while
  • how to determine whether a food is healthy for our bodies
  • how to determine which ones do not provide any nutrition value just calories
This is the kind of changes that can make a difference in a child's long term eating habits.

It's starts in our home. Each family making healthier choices, it will add up. Think about it? Do we need to be taxed? Is that the only way we are going to change our behavior? Will it change our behavior?

Let's look at a simple example.

  • Your child wants candy.
  • But Mom, thinking that she doesn't want her child to eat candy, imposes an additional condition (like the tax does to our wallet)
  • So Mom responds, "You can only have candy if you sweep out the entire garage" (or some other activity that your child will think, "no way do I want to do that".)
  • Okay, good, mom has definitely sent a message, "you will have to pay with an additional chore to have this item"
  • But now the child decides, I really want that candy so I will go ahead and clean out the garage.

Is it a win? Did they learn the concerns Mom had about eating candy? Would it have been better to sit down and help the child learn about foods that should be eaten once in a while?

A tax won't fix the problem, not long term.



1 Comment

Dr. Susan Rubin
Friday, Jan 23, 2009 @ 06:25 AM

Flag This Item

While I agree that taxing hazardous food is not ideal, it may be a start in the right direction. Taxing on the basis of CALORIES is probably not the right approach. We live in a country where a happy meal is cheaper than a healthy meal (thanks to our farm bill which helps to subsidize poor quality food). So perhaps a tax on hazardous beverages is a step in the right direction. See my blog post for a further explaination and a suggestion for change:

The photos displayed on this website were purchased legally from,, and All clipart displayed on this website is the exclusive property of