The thing is, I’m for a soda tax. I really am. I think soda is totally useless, and I honestly wonder how people can drink so much. The link between these suckable empty calories and obesity seems patently clear to me, to say nothing of the impact of soda on dental health and now, as one recent study suggests, pancreatic cancer.
So when several states proposed and then passed taxes on soda, I cheered. If our nation’s healthcare system is crippling under the weight of too many supersized Sunkists, then a tax seems like a sensible solution. Use the money for anti-obesity efforts! To subsidize fruits and vegetables (as Kelly Brownell of Yale has proposed)! To teach children how to make a yogurt and fruit smoothie, so they can whip up a 2-second drink that has calcium, vitamins, and protein instead of popping open a fizzy can of artificially colored and sweetened corn syrup!
But if I were being honest with myself, I’d have to ask the question in my graphic above now that discussions of a national tax are gaining momentum. Is soda really responsible for the nation’s obesity epidemic? And if not, why pluck soda out from all the other foods and beverages that stink nutritionally and hang a tax around its bottleneck? (Some answers are offered here, in Mark Bittman's thought-provoking article in Sunday's New York Times.)
Is it because we’ve got to start somewhere? Because I’m okay with that, I really am, but if I were a Coke, I’d be wondering why my good buddy barbecued-chicken-pizza-with-extra-cheese-injected-into-the-crust seems to be getting a free pass.