Free Markets, Free People

Trying to justify taxing “caloric sweetened beverages”

Or as you know them, soda’s, energy and sports drinks and fruit juices.

The USDA has gotten in the act – all in the name of science and health, of course – and has offered it’s opinion on the matter.  Linked is the report summary.  Here is what they found:

• A tax-induced 20-percent increase in the price of caloric sweetened beverages could reduce net calorie intake from all beverages by 37 calories per day for the average adult. The effects for children were estimated to be larger—an average reduction of 43 calories per day.

• By assuming that 1 pound of body fat has about 3,500 calories, and assuming all else remains equal, the daily calorie reductions would translate into an average reduction of 3.8 pounds over a year for adults and 4.5 pounds over a year for children.

• The weight loss induced by the tax could reduce the overweight prevalence among adults from 66.9 to 62.4 percent and the prevalence of obesity from 33.4 to 30.4 percent. For children, the at-risk-of-overweight prevalence would decline from 32.2 to 27.0 percent and the overweight prevalence would decline from 16.6 to 13.7 percent.

Let me summarize – a 20% tax would reduce consumption of these beverages enough to take “37 calories a day” out of your diet.  That resulting net loss of 37 calories would average 3.8 pounds for year and take the overweight population from 66.9% to 62.7%.

Really?  37 calories a day – the amount of calories you burn getting off your fat behind and walking to the fridge for another soda?  Overweight people normally ingest more calories a day than they burn.  And that caloric intake is usually well over 2,000 calories a day.  37 calories?  That’s a third of a granola bar, for heaven sake.

This is science?

Oh, wait – a couple of qualifiers:

1. A large group of individuals are overweight or obese by only a few pounds, and a small reduction in calorie intake could change their weight classification; and

2. Many overweight and obese Americans consume large amounts of caloric sweetened beverages. For example, 10.6 percent of overweight adults consumed more than 450 calories per day from caloric sweetened beverages— nearly three times the average amount of 152 calories consumed by adults.

And, of course, it is the job of government to help tax these people into a new weight classification?  Well of course it is – Congress just gave themselves the power to make it their business.

Of course this 37 calorie drop a day assumes that a) overweight people won’t change a thing other than dropping the consumption of “caloric sweetened beverages”, b) won’t attempt to fulfill their desire for sugary food with something else or c) won’t grudgingly pay the tax and continue their consumption habits .   The further assumption, of course, is they’ll lose the weight as a result of the negative incentive provided by a 20% tax.

Not only are these people marginal scientists, they seem to know very little about human nature.  On top of that, they certainly don’t seem to understand the political blowback something like this is likely to have. 

But, just the fact that the USDA is dabbling in studies about taxing sugary drinks should tell you all you need to know about the continued intrusive depths to which government now plans to go to regulate everything in your life. 

Freedom means the freedom to succeed and to fail.  It means as long as  you aren’t violating or intruding on someone else’s rights, you can pretty much do whatever you want – to include get fat on sugary drinks.  What it doesn’t mean is some outside agency deciding what is or isn’t good or healthy for you and deciding to tax you into the behavior it deems proper.

But that’s precisely what this “study” is all about.

Freedom is becoming a rare commodity in this land, and we need to understand that and fight against any and all attempted intrusions no matter how trivial or seemingly well intentioned.  Allowing the incremental encroachment of government in all areas of our lives is the sure way to kill freedom and put us well on the road to serfdom.



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13 Responses to Trying to justify taxing “caloric sweetened beverages”

  • Oh, I LOVED this…

    1. A large group of individuals are overweight or obese by only a few pounds, and a small reduction in calorie intake could change their weight classification;

    What a WONDERFUL example of idiots writing crap!  Nobody is “obese” by only a few pounds.
    Of course, all this relates back to the scientific stupidity of the BMI, which is a farce.  According to that, most all Americans are “overweight” or “obese”.  I am 6’4″, 240-245#, and have been for years and years, and I am rather fit.  But NOooo, not according to the BMI one-size-fits-all BS.
    And this is just the beginning.  The health care horror that is Obamacare is designed to make you and I wards of the state.  Which is why it has to be OPPOSED at every opportunity.

  • Not only are these people marginal scientists, they seem to know very little about human nature.

    They’re horrible scientists.  You can’t take 37 calories a day, multiply it by the length of a year, then divide by 3500 cal/lb and get a meaningful value.  Even if they didn’t replace those calories somewhere else, over the length of a few weeks your body will adjust to the new calorie intake and you’re weight loss will stop.
    You have to eat right and exercise.  You can’t just do one.

  • The NYT reported a couple of years ago about a federal study of about 30 people on a “weight loss” program .. after 3 years all of them were back exactly to where they started after losing weight initially.  Their conclusion .. people have a “natural weight” which their body’s will “fight like hell” to maintain .. no matter.

  • What a load of complete bullsh*t!

  • As I explained earlier we are much better off as a society if we all die realtivly young (before we start using social security and medicare).  Therefore this interest in prolonging our lives by taking away our choices is not even good economics.

  • McQ says “freedom means the freedom to succeed and to fail.” The government is killing freedom by taxing sodas, yet no freedom was lost with huge government subsidies for corn (subsequently high fructose corn syrup) at a time when the market price of corn was at an all time high.
    Is there any question that its cost advantage over expensive tariff-protected cane sugar has resulted in the dramatic increase of caloric intake since the late 1980’s?  A soda tax may be an intervention to correct a previous intervention, but let’s be even- handed with this “free to fail” thing and  better distinguish between pro-business and pro-free market. Is everyone in agreement that the health care costs created by the farm bill should not be internalized?

    • Prove to me that people who drink cane sugar cokes are thinner than those who drink the same amount of corn syrup.  Not to mention this law includes fruit juices, too.
      And of course the sugar quotas and corn subsidies should be stopped as well. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • USDA is just screaming for a budget cut.

  • These taxes, unfortunately, have too many champions.
    First, you have the social engineering crowd that wishes to use punitive taxing in order to attempt to alter others behavior.  Much like the puritan crowd heralding taxes upon alcohol and tobacco.
    If that isn’t bad enough, we have those who adopt that premise for the sole purpose of gathering revenue.
    You know what the tea partiers ought to do?  On the anniversary of the Boston party, and with a clear message for whom the denunciation is meant for, go out into the harbor and dump a few cases of Coca-Cola.
    Yeah, it’s kinda’ silly – but it would make for great theater.
    I know…  Boston is burrrrr cold in December.  But we fat Americans certainly have the insulation for such activities.  🙂
    Who’s with me?

  • Let’s see…a serving of regular soda has about 100 calories or so, give or take 20. Let’s just go with the highest value, 120 calories per serving, which is 8 oz almost universally – one cup. (This is all based off memory, when I investigated the claim that milk – which we are supposed to be drinking more of as opposed to soda – has more calories per serving…and it’s true!) And now we’ll up that by 50% to 180 calories, since 12 oz is the usual minimum amount a person drinks. So we get taxed 20%, and consume enough less soda to save us about 40 calories a day…that’s one less soda can for every 4.5 days. And just by doing that I can lose almost 4 lbs in a year, by literally doing less than I already do! Wow, I hope for this tax to force me to drink less soda!

    Oh wait.

    Let’s be generous and say I am 200 lbs. Take off four from that…(this takes a while, because I use the same math as the USDA) that’s 196 lbs! Not too much of a difference there. Sure sounds better, in the same sense that $1.99 sounds better than $2.

    And this also brings up the absurdity of the government’s boundaries of overweight/obese if only this is enough to change a person’s standing in those categories.

    And why is it so great to change categories (even just by subtracting one to cross the line) if not for some stupid policy reason?

    (Typing all this as I drink Dr. Pepper from a 64 oz cup.)

  • Oh, the real treat is to compare beer and soda.
    12 oz. of soda: 160 calories.
    12 oz. of beer: 120 calories.
    Had a few people not believe me on that.
    This law will simply drive people to drink diet cokes.
    I wonder if the Dems could lose the Mexican-American vote with this stuff? They sure do like the regular, sugary versions.

  • After the first few years, alcohol consumption dropped only 30 percent. Soon smugglers were outrunning the Coast Guard ships in advanced speedboats, and courts inundated by violations of Prohibition began to resort to plea bargains to speed “enforcement” of laws so unenforceable that Detroit became known as the City on a Still.

    Now imagine for a second Elliot Ness running down the makers of “Jolt Cola” ?
    I wonder if the USDA geniuses considered the “anger” factor ?