Last December, New York Governor David Paterson suggested imposing an 18 percent tax on nondiet soft drinks. (It would be similar to the “sin tax” applied to cigarettes and alcohol.) A few months later, he admitted that this so-called “fat tax” wouldn’t pass the legislature. But could his pie-in-the-sky idea help reverse the obesity epidemic? Here’s a look at the numbers:
1: Number of food categories subject to the proposed New York fat tax: nondiet soft drinks. (Sugary drinks containing less than 70 percent fruit juice would also be subject to the tax.)
$1.49: Price of a 20-ounce Diet Coke.
$1.76: Price of a 20-ounce “regular” Coke plus the proposed fat tax.
$404 million: The revenue New York could earn from the proposed fat tax, based on current soft-drink habits.
5%: Predicted decrease in soft-drink consumption if beverage prices increased by 18%.
20: Number of states that apply sales tax on soft drinks higher than that on other foods.
0: Number of states that use revenue from the higher sales tax to subsidize the prices of healthful foods.
Sources: Safeway.com, prices as of March 2009; Journal of Public Health Policy; The American Journal of Public Health.