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In Case You Missed It

Pat Baird, MA, RDN, FAND

The efforts of concerned citizens, local businesses, and outsiders that banded together to fight the Alabama beverage tax proposal were not in vain- Alabama’s Governor Bentley has finally signed the state budget with no new taxes on soda! This wasn’t the first time a proposed tax on soda has been defeated. Soda tax proposals have failed in more than 30 states and cities across the country- and for good reason.

Advocates of these types of taxes claim that they are the solution to solving the obesity epidemic throughout the United States. However, a study by George Mason University researchers demonstrated that even a tax as high as 20 percent tax on soda would only reduce an obese person’s Body Mass Index from 40 to 39.98 percent. Obesity is a complex issue. Yes, food and beverages play a large part in weight - but so does genetics and exercise.  Of the three, science has shown that balancing food and beverage choices with physical activity are effective in managing weight. The Centers for Disease Control has a number of different strategies for managing weight and reducing the obesity epidemic- none of which includes taxes.

Demonizing certain foods and/or beverages just doesn’t work. What will work is increasing nutrition education, improving community access to parks and walking paths, and teaching people how to read food labels, along with a host of other approaches. 

So congratulations Alabamians- let common sense and moderation prevail.

Pat Baird is a registered dietitian nutritionist, a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; and President of the CT Academy of Nutrition.  She is an award-winning author of five books, a noted media spokesperson, and adjunct professor at UConn Stamford. Pat worked in healthcare at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

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