MONTREAL, Nov. 15, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - For several years, the Weight
Coalition has requested the introduction of a soda tax to fight
obesity. Along the same lines, the Ontario Medical Association recently
called for a tax on foods deemed to be too high in sugar or fat. A new
publication from the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) suggests that
apart from making the government fatter, this type of action will not
really have any impact on weight, as shown by a Danish government's
decision to abolish its "fat tax" introduced a year ago.
A renowned Canadian doctor and an associate researcher at the MEI, Dr.
David Gratzer points out that the scientific literature is divided on
the effectiveness of taxation in fighting obesity. Several studies have
questioned the optimistic projections of tax proponents that say they
could lead to an appreciable decline in the level of obesity.
"Changing dietary habits is not easy. Someone who sees the price of a
591 mL soft drink bottle jump 10% might change his behaviour, but not
necessarily in the desired direction. For instance, he might choose
another product not subject to the tax, like a large coffee with two
creams and two sugars, which happens to contain approximately the same
number of calories, around 260," explains Dr. Gratzer.
As for the possibility of extending the tax to cover a larger number of
products to deal with the possibility of substitution, this would
include nutritious beverages like smoothies and fruit juices, which is
not a good thing according to Dr. Gratzer. In sum, introducing a new
tax is not the best strategy if we are truly concerned with tackling
the obesity problem.
"Basically, taxing sodas would provide the illusion of addressing the
obesity problem. In reality, this tax would have very little effect on
those extra pounds, which the Weight Coalition actually recognizes,
seeing this measure as a lever that will provide funds for other
prevention activities,'" says Jasmin Guénette, Vice President of the
The Economic Note entitled Are Soda Taxes a Cure for Obesity? was prepared by Dr. David Gratzer, Canadian doctor, author and senior
fellow at the MEI, in collaboration with Jasmin Guénette, Vice
President of the MEI. It can be consulted free of charge at iedm.org.
The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan,
not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its
publications and conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public
policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating
reforms based on market mechanisms.
SOURCE: MONTREAL ECONOMIC INSTITUTE
For further information:
Ariane Gauthier, communications coordinator, Montreal Economic Institute
Tel.: 514 273-0969 ext. 2231 / Cell: 514 603-8746 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org