They Say, We Know
The soda industry's arguments against taxing soda don't hold up. They continually use the same reasons to argue against a tax on sugary drinks. If you're going to advocate for policies to Kick the Can, this list will prepare you to respond. Let us know if you hear others.
They Say: Obesity is complicated. Many things drive it, not just sugary drink consumption.
We Know: No one claims soda to be the only contributor to obesity. But research shows it's a major one. In fact, 43% of the increased daily calories Americans consumed from 1977-20011 -- while the obesity epidemic was climbing most sharply -- came from soda and other sugary drinks.
They Say: Taxes won’t solve obesity.
We Know: Obviously no single initiative will solve the obesity epidemic. But this is a good place to start! Considering how many empty calories people consume from sugary beverages and how aggressively the soda industry markets these unhealthy products, taxing soda is a good place to begin.
They say: Consumption is down, but obesity is up.
We Know: Consumption of soda and other sugary drinks has more than doubled since the 1980s. While it is true that people are now drinking fewer carbonated beverages than they did a decade ago2 -- which is good news -- consumption of energy drinks and sports drinks, and flavored waters are on the rise.3
They Say: A calorie is a calorie, whether it comes from sugar or something else.
We Know: Drinking 200 "empty" calories of sugar is not the same thing as eating 200 calories of nutritious broccoli. Sugary beverages are nutritionally bankrupt -- they are liquid candy, not food. Additionally, the body processes liquid calories differently. It does not have the radar to recognize liquid calories so when we drink soda our body thinks it is water, but it isn't.
They Say: The key to combating obesity is increasing physical activity.
We Know: Physical activity is very important in maintaining overall health. But recent research shows it's far less important than calorie intake in explaining weight gain.4
They Say: The science about sugary drinks and obesity isn’t clear.
We Know: The science is rock solid. There is a strong and clear connection between sugary beverages and both obesity and diabetes. The studies that don't support the connection are usually funded by the beverage industry. What’s more, sugary drinks are also related to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, dental caries, and poorer diet quality.
They Say: Truck drivers and other people will lose jobs from a soda tax.
We Know: This is nothing but a scare tactic, playing off of people’s anxieties in a down economy. And it doesn’t make much sense. Here’s why: If the tax drives down soda consumption, as it might, people will simply buy more lower calorie beverages. Truck drivers will still be needed to deliver diet drinks, bottled water and juice.
*This resource is adapted from information that Kelly Brownell, Director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, delivered in a webinar on March 9, 2010. Listen to the full recording or download the PowerPoint presentation.
Prepared by Berkeley Media Studies Group for the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, 2011.
1. Woodward-Lopez G, Kao J, Ritchie L. To what extent have sweetened beverages contributed to the obesity epidemic? Public Health Nutrition. 2011; 14(3):499-509.
2. O'Leary, N. Soft Drink Consumption Continues to Decline. Adweek. 30 March 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/soft-drink-consumption-c....
3. Popkin BM. Patterns of beverage use across the lifecycle. Physiology & Behavior. 2010; 100: 4–9.
4. Westerterp, K. R. Physical activity, food intake, and body weight regulation: insights from doubly labeled water studies. Nutrition Reviews. 2010. 68; 148-154.