tax on soda obesity

Photo from Coca Cola

Two-thirds of American adults are obese or overweight. Health officials think that one way to deal with the obesity problem is by putting a tax on soda.

"The average American consumes roughly 250 calories more today than they did two or three decades ago," said Thomas Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at the "Weight of the Nation" conference on obesity held last week. "Of that, about 120 calories is in the form of sodas and other sugared food and beverages."

A soft drink tax would not only help Americans lose weight, it would also raise money that the country spends (almost 150 billion dollars a year) treating preventable health conditions caused by obesity. While about 40 of the 50 states currently tax soft drinks and junk food, the taxes are too low to have an impact on consumption.

In 2002, Frieden, who was then the health commissioner of New York, raised cigarette taxes so high that a pack now costs around $10. He guessed that people would kick the habit if smoking cost too much, and he was right. Over six years, adult smoking decreased by 25 percent and teen smoking dropped 50 percent.

Frieden thinks the same can be done with soda and obesity.

What do you think? Would you stop drinking soda if there was a significantly higher tax on it? Do you think quitting soda alone would help you lose weight?