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View Full Version : Patterson calls for tax on sugared drinks


Arien Malec
12-19-2008, 01:29 PM
http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/12/18/paterson.obesity/index.html

Good to hear that he's concentrating on the right item here....

Chris Salvato
12-19-2008, 01:48 PM
I think its kind of bullshit, to be honest -- just a way to raise money.

Taxes on sugary drinks are not the same as taxes on cigarettes. These people are not eating gloriously healthy diets rich in whole foods and vegetables and then drinking mass quantities of soda. The obese population is eating doughnuts, ice cream and fried chicken all in one meal -- then wash it down with soda.

Soda is not the culprit here -- its the culture and society that need to be changed...

but hey, that tax would not affect me at all since I don't drink that crap -- and it seems like a great way to raise money. However, I think he is veiling the dollar signs in his eyes with this delusion that it will lower obesity rates.

Allen Yeh
12-19-2008, 01:57 PM
I first heard about this yesterday and I don't know. On one hand I don't really have much sympathy for soda drinkers and the companies but on the other hand I feel like this along with NY's trans fat ban and other items are just becoming too intrusive in peoples lives. Not quite talking about the same thing but I think applicable to this and other laws like federal snooping things makes me think of this quote:

Removed due to objectionable content

Arien Malec
12-19-2008, 05:38 PM
Uh, never mind.

Obese people are all eating doughnuts, fried chicken, ice cream and soda. Probably with two hands, all simultaneously. But taxing sugar water is tantamount to gassing overweight people, incinerating them, and making soap out of the rendered fat and ashes.

WTF?

Allen Yeh
12-19-2008, 08:45 PM
Uh, never mind.

Obese people are all eating doughnuts, fried chicken, ice cream and soda. Probably with two hands, all simultaneously. But taxing sugar water is tantamount to gassing overweight people, incinerating them, and making soap out of the rendered fat and ashes.

WTF?

The quote reminds me of liberties being taken away silently and quietly because no one objects when it doesn't affect them.

If people think it has nothing to do with the matter I'll remove it.

Chris Salvato
12-19-2008, 08:50 PM
Er...i think you misunderstood...

Overweight people, for the most part, have major problems with their diet. That is, they are eating diets extremely rich in calories and highly processed foods. Coupled with the fact that the average american exercises 1-2x a week at most (and exercise may include light cycling or bicep curls..) it is no wonder we are fat. My point was that it is a LIFESTYLE issue not a SOFT DRINKS issue.

The smoking/lung cancer issue was a clear cut culprit - cigarettes. You can't put restrictions on all foods that are making people obese. 95% of people who are obese may drink soda, but they also probably eat a loaf or two of white bread every week.

In regards to the analogy, it fits. Since when should the government try and control what we eat or smoke? Lord knows they do this, of course, but they shouldn't. It is more steps towards fascism...today its trans fat, tomorrow its soda, the next day its sausage. The smoking problem wasn't fixed by taxes -- it was fixed by vilifying cigarettes...the same must be done for the conventional American diet.

Arien Malec
12-19-2008, 09:33 PM
Er...i think you misunderstood...

Overweight people, for the most part, have major problems with their diet. That is, they are eating diets extremely rich in calories and highly processed foods. Coupled with the fact that the average american exercises 1-2x a week at most (and exercise may include light cycling or bicep curls..) it is no wonder we are fat. My point was that it is a LIFESTYLE issue not a SOFT DRINKS issue.

I reacted to your take on overweight people because I've been overweight myself, and known a number of overweight people, most of whom are very dissatisfied with their condition. The case of most obesity isn't out of control obviously bad living, it's lots of processed food, as you say, but more than that, it's a little bit of excess over long periods of time, and for some people, it's even "isocaloric" eating that somehow leads to high fat.

How you view that process depends on whether you subscribe to a willpower model of obesity or a metabolic dysfunction model of obesity, and in particular if you believe in a dysfunction model triggered by hyperinsulinemia.

I do happen to believe that cheap tasty sugar water has a causal relationship with obesity, which leads me to believe that the case of cheap tasty sugar water is analogous to the case of cheap cigarettes -- raising prices on both will tend to lower consumption, which will tend to improve health outcomes.

By the way, I tend to think the simplest mechanism would be to eliminate the subsidies for cheap corn, which are at the root of much of our cheap processed food.

Allen -- I'm with you on creeping elimination of liberties, but don't think a tax on sugar water is in the same class at all as the holocaust. Again, particularly since the cheap sugar water market has been created by artificial goverrment subsidies in the first place...

Chris Salvato
12-19-2008, 09:42 PM
Aye aye...

I agree with you on the obesity issue, 100%....I too was overweight for most of my life and most of the people in my family are overweight.

The only real change comes when you cut out the processed food and start being hungry for a few hours over the long term (at least a few weeks.) Its really simple, actually, just most people don't want to do it for whatever reason.

Even if you don't agree with a hyperinsulemia model and assuming there are no metabolic problems like a thyroid disorder you should still agree that the reason most obese/overweight people get and stay that way is poor diet and lack of exercise - poor lifestyle choices...do we honestly believe over 1/2 of americans have an metabolic disorder? Hey I am not hating on anyone -- i was in that boat for 15-20 years myself.

Even if these people stop drinking soda, the chances are this won't matter as much because they will likely make up the calories some other way purely based on the lack of understanding they have for their food. If Patterson truely believes with you then I admire his dedication -- however, it looks to me like he is using the "moral obligation" nonsense to find an excuse to add a tax and make more money.

Educate people. Vilify soda. Vilify HFCS. This is what we did with cigarettes and that's what led to the most results.

But hey, maybe you're right -- taxing it because it is "bad for you" might be what people need to see to start the vilification process... :)

Grissim Connery
12-20-2008, 01:30 AM
is the cigarette issue considered fixed?

Chris Salvato
12-20-2008, 04:27 AM
when you consider where we started and where we are now, the only people who use cigarettes are those who know they are doing themselves harm. Everyone who smokes knows it is bad for them -- they just don't care.

Arien Malec
12-20-2008, 08:43 AM
is the cigarette issue considered fixed?

Since we started an aggressive policy on cigarette taxation and public smoking bans, we've seen a progressive decline in the incidence and prevalence of smoking, and declines in second hand smoking deaths. I can pull up the stats for you if you want, but it's a public health success story.

Daniel Olmstead
12-20-2008, 10:14 AM
Seems nobody is paying attention to the other half of this tax: the money being raised is (purportedly) being used exclusively for the health education we all agree is necessary. That, I think, is more important than whatever small decrease in consumption would result from the tax. States these days obviously don't have the resources to foot that bill themselves, so the tax makes sense.

Kevin Perry
12-20-2008, 11:21 AM
Shouldn't this be a moral issue? It's the individuals own personal responsibility when it comes to what they put in their own bodies and that comes down to their own education.

I have conflicted feelings on this, it just seems to give the state or the feds an excuse to tax anything they want but in reality will it actually teach anyone anything? Unlikely. People are generally too ignorant to know what is good or bad for them.

Mike ODonnell
12-21-2008, 07:24 AM
The more we try to "save everyone"....the more screwed up it all gets.

George Mounce
12-21-2008, 03:58 PM
Great...tax the poor more, the primary drinkers of such things. :rolleyes:

Of course they also have a problem with paying for urban schools - vicious cycle.

Kevin - they've been taxing things people like (I do remember some boat in a harbor once full of tea...) for thousands of years, that isn't going to change anytime soon. :)

Kevin Perry
12-21-2008, 04:38 PM
Great...tax the poor more, the primary drinkers of such things. :rolleyes:

Of course they also have a problem with paying for urban schools - vicious cycle.

Kevin - they've been taxing things people like (I do remember some boat in a harbor once full of tea...) for thousands of years, that isn't going to change anytime soon. :)

Ok so I quoted that wrong, the economy is down they need to make money somehow...

Either way I do not drink soft drinks so it does not affect me...

LucienNicholson
12-21-2008, 11:01 PM
The more we try to "save everyone"....the more screwed up it all gets.

That's the most insightful thing I've read on this thread.

If the government instituted a 10 percent tax or a 50% tax on bumpers and grassfed beef, would it stop anyone on this forum from consuming those two items?

If anyone thinks the government could ever help anyone with a wise diet plan, take a look at the Food Pyramid.

Besides taxing obese people, they're also taxing fit people like me who enjoy rum and cokes ever couple of weekends or so.

Arien Malec
12-22-2008, 09:59 AM
This is an interesting set of remarks. Again, I was looking at this through the lens of what I consider to be a successful policy on taxing cigarettes, and through a political philosophy that is quite close to the approach in Nudge: http://www.amazon.com/Nudge-Improving-Decisions-Health-Happiness/dp/0300122233/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1229967134&sr=8-1

Of course, again, I'd be content if we merely elimitated our massive subsidies for corn and soy-based products (like HCFC-sweetened drinks). (On that note, I find the comment on rum-and-coke funny, since the rum portion is heavily taxed and the coke portion heavily subsidized).

Also interesting the comments on obesity being an individual moral issue. To my mind, it's not, either:

1) Are we any less individual moral now than we were 100 years ago, or 100,000 years ago? (note that everyone thinks the previous age was the golden age, but really?)

2) We all pay for the increased burden of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in our taxes and health care premiums

Or, to put it a different way, our modern health care crisis is a consequence of the society we live in, including both governmental and societal norms, and we need to change both, with a lot of undoing of stuff that we are currently actively doing to mess things up (subsidizing HCFC, corn oil, and grain fed antibiotic resistant beef), and lots of nudging the other way.

I, of course, take all the points about how wrongheaded the current governmental/scientific "consensus" on diet currently is as well.