The Skinny on Anti-Obesity Soda Laws

The Skinny on Anti-Obesity Soda Laws

Governments feel the need to intervene when it comes to increasing obesity rates, shown by the attempt to ban the sale of large soft drinks in New York, or the proposal for a penny-per-ounce excise tax on sweetened beverages in California.

But economist Michael Marlow sees two issues with these ‘paternalistic public-health initiatives’:

  1. They aren’t grounded in data or compelling economic models
  2. They might ‘catalyse a dismal chain reaction, with escalating government intrusions on personal freedom’

Marlow critically examines 2 studies from 2010 and 2012 which endorse a tax on soft drinks, and highlights why these studies are not enough to prove a tax would be effective. Regarding consumer behaviour, Marlow is skeptical. People who crave sweet food will find a way to circumvent the tax, simply opt for fruit juice, or if the tax is low enough, just pay the price. In fact, he argues that ‘when new taxes are imposed and escalated with no measurable impact or end in sight, consumers know that the tax is nonsense’.

The idea of a ‘nanny-state’ falls short in Marlow’s eyes, as governments have no business in trying to alter behaviour for people’s own good. If authorities are so adamant about battling obesity, they should be encouraging private initiatives around exercise and dieting, concludes Marlow.

The whole article is available here.




Irish researchers share insights on obesity and NCDs

Irish researchers share insights on obesity and NCDs

The Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland is holding its inaugural meeting this week – to be discussed are a range of obesity-related topics including obesity management, obesity and pregnancy and socio-economic factors, as reported by the Irish Times.

In terms of socio-economic imbalance research from the Economic and Social Research Institute found that ‘working class’ girls were almost 40% more likely to be overweight than their peers in ‘professional’ households.

On physical activity, leading physiotherapist Dr. Colin Dunlevy berated “bootcamp” reality shows for making losing weight through exercise look too hard; with beginning a regime a key barrier for overweight individuals to lose weight.

Professor Martin Caraher (City University London) argued that the solutions to obesity are not to be found in health policy alone – joined up policy linking health, finance, agriculture and planning all play a role. Inequality is a key driver of obesity and other nutrition-related chronic diseases.

You can read the full article by following this link.