Obesity and the Sin Tax on Soda

First off, let’s get something straight. Science doesn’t know what’s good for you and what isn’t: the health fads change every single year. A few years back, red meats were conducive to all sorts of horrible, god awful conditions. Then the Atkins diet came along and people all over the country, as one, started roasting and eating entire cows. And then – here’s the fun part – a few years later, after a bunch of Atkins extremists went to the hospital and died (five or six on my ward alone,) the fad faded from the public eye and became another “maybe it’ll work” solution to obesity.

You didn’t see Uncle Sam trying to put a tax on red meat, so we, the people, can be fairly certain that they aren’t trying to capitalize on dieting trends. No, something darker is going on (and by dark, I do not mean that there is an entity, or a collection of entities trying to gain control of the country.) A concerned group of people, somewhere on the top of the US Foodchain wants to – for the good of the country, mind you – put a tax on… wow, Soda.

This ‘sin tax’ is the direct result in the rise of obesity as one of the new number one causes of preventable death. Obesity is a problem and I’m not arguing against that. But putting a tax on Soda seems to be, well, absurd. Sure, tax the cigarettes – we know for a fact that those things are lethal. We’ve known ever since an autopsy surgeon looked at the ex-Marlboro Man’s lungs, which, for those who have never seen those particular photographs, were full of thick, black tar. I don’t agree with the Sin Tax on cigarettes, though, and I’m certainly not a smoker. After all, what happened to, and I’m quoting something important here, so pay attention, “No Taxation without representation?”

So we’re calling this war on soda a “sin tax.” Who represents it? The Federal and State government. Alright, but who’s definition of ‘sin’ are we going by? Not mine. It sounds like something I’d hear from the conservative right-hand side of the Christian think-tanks. But wait! They can’t represent a tax! There’s supposed to be a rigid separation of church and state!

But what’s in a name? I’m sure, since this sin tax is for our own good, that there is a veritable wall of scientific evidence backing it up. I think the government would do better to follow Canada’s example of caring about our health by, you know, actually providing healthcare, but this shows us that Uncle Sam cares about us – even if it is in a draconian fashion.

Right?

Hmm. We’d better have a look at this evidence.

First item up to bat:

Between 1977 and 1997 soda consumption in the US increases by sixty percent. Between these years, obesity in US citizens nearly doubles.

That’s the first and, I’m afraid, primary fact that the studies were centered around. I’m reluctant to call the other statistics facts. Certainly, abusing a drink that is ultimately sugar mixed with water can cause weight gain – if you don’t burn the sugar off through some sort of exercise. Of course, we’re talking about LIQUID sugar, so really, you’d have to exercising as you drank in order to burn off the sugar fats. So, yes, Soda can make you fat. So can Pasta. It took a team of elite government scientists to reach this conclusion? Uh oh.

Since there isn’t any evidence to support that every obese person drinks soda, or that every soda drinker is obese, this first fact isn’t really strong enough to warrant a sin tax, or any other governmental attempt at controlling what we drink. Yes, you can drink a lot of soda and become obese. But, as likely as this possibility is, I have a very good friend who drinks about fifteen cans of Dr. Pepper a day. Take a stab at her weight. Go on, guess. She’s a full grown adult, mind you, currently in college. And she weighs about 90 pounds.

And then take a look at me. I’m about, oh, thirty pounds overweight. (Read: the author is gargantuan and could no doubt rival the weight of a small car.) I drink about two sodas a week. The rest is varying types of juice, water, and coffee. Obviously then, Soda isn’t making me fat. Wendy’s, maybe, Soda, no.

Alrighty, lets look at some of their other evidence.

“A study of 548 Massachusetts schoolchildren found that for each additional sweet drink consumed per day, the odds of obesity increased 60 percent.”

Wow. I don’t even know where to begin. They’re saying that my friend’s odds of being obese are 900%? Whatever thought they were trying to convey in this statement, it’s not exactly clear. In fact, it sounds like something they made up, since it doesn’t, you know, actually mean anything. No factoring in special cases… such as, are they already obese? Are they male or female? All you need to know is that they’re 500+ identical school children, each of them chugging a soda and instantly becoming 60% closer to obesity. I should really stop mocking this; I’m sure my humble sized readership can come up with far wittier things than I.

But it’s too much fun. So every additional soda after… how many? Zero? Were these children were all drinking the same amount of soda every day? What if they were slamming fifty of these things? Does that mean I can safely quaff fifty (but not fifty-one) sodas without worrying about obesity? This statistic is so unclear that I could make it mean anything!

Enough of that, though, I’m moving on to the next non-fact.

A federal study following the diets of 9,000+ US denizens found that those who drank soda are more likely to eat high calorie foods, while those who drank healthier drinks, such as milk (though science can’t actually decide if Milk is healthy for you or not), tended to consume fewer calories. First of all, I resent the fact that the federal government gave my hard earned tax money to some schmuck so he could ask 9,500 people to write down what they think they ate for the last month, and whether or not they had a Sprite with it. Second, bull-turds! This isn’t evidence! It’s 9,500 opinions collected under a federally funded doctor’s name! I didn’t need someone to tell me that people who eat healthy tend to drink healthy, and that people who don’t eat healthy don’t drink healthy either. It falls, very squarely, into the territory of common knowledge. It’s mostly true, yes, but it hardly warrants putting a sin tax on Soda.

What about juice? Or ‘Kool-Aide’? Those both have a lot of sugars. Don’t they deserve a sin tax, then?

Nope. Sorry. FAIL. F Minus. Sure, soda makes people fatter if they don’t adjust to the number of calories they take in, but I didn’t need a government study, apparently coordinated by someone who can’t string together sentences to make their facts clear, to tell me this. The intentions behind the Soda Tax are good; the government wants to fight obesity. But “the road to hell is paved with good intentions;” the sin tax on soda is a bad idea, and so was the sin tax on cigarettes. The government doesn’t need to regulate my diet. Any chance the obesity levels are connected with the unemployment levels? Why not look into that? Maybe the jobless among us can’t afford anything but fast, fatty food. Or maybe they’re depressed and don’t care what they look like. Regardless, the government is trying to tell us what to drink, and they’re doing it by making the drinks they don’t like harder to obtain. This will lead, as history shows, to nothing but the further infringement of our rights.

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