Soda Tax Won't Do Much To Reduce Obesity: Fat People Already Drink Diet


One of the silver bullets that food nannies want to fire at the obesity "epidemic" is a tax on sugary sodas. The idea relies on an insight from economics: higher prices tend to reduce demand for a product. Now ScienceDaily is reporting a new study that suggests that this silver bullet is likely to be a dud:

…obese people tend to drink diet sodas, and therefore taxing soft drinks with added sugar or other sweeteners is not a good weapon in combating obesity, according to a new Northwestern University study. …

"After doing the analysis, it really turns out to be the case that obese people like diet soda so much more than regular soda that you can do whatever you want to the price," said Ketan Patel, a fourth-year doctoral student in economics [who authored the study]. "You're not going to get that much change in obese people's weight because they already drink diet soda." …

Beyond its ineffectiveness in reducing obesity, such a tax also would punish consumers that are not overweight or obese, Patel said.

Go here and here to see more skeptical reporting on soda taxes by my colleagues by my Reason colleagues.

Disclosure: I have taken the Pepsi challenge; I prefer Diet Coke. My BMI is 24.3.

H/T Phil Meade.