Tax pizza and soda, researchers say

An 18% tax on these unhealthy foods could impact on Americans' average weight.

By Kim Peterson Mar 9, 2010 12:43PM
Pizza slice. Credit: (© Foodcollection/Getty Images)Medical researchers say an 18% tax on soda and pizza could lower Americans' average weight by five pounds a year. Not the best news for Coca-Cola (KO) and Yum Brands (YUM).

Would a tax like this ever fly? Probably not, although the lingering economic downturn has lawmakers looking closely at new tax ideas. The researchers say this tax could even help cut rates of diabetes.

The U.S. spends an estimated $147 billion a year in health costs to combat obesity, Reuters reports. About two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese.

The idea of taxing sodas has been much discussed over the last year, and has gained support from medical groups such as the American Heart Association. But pizza? That's a new one, and would be a little harder to implement.

Still, the researchers say that an 18% tax would cut a person's intake by 56 calories a day. Added up, that's five pounds shed a year.

Other physicians chimed in, telling Reuters that the government has the wrong priorities when it comes to subsidizing crops. "Sadly, we are currently subsidizing the wrong things including the product of corn, which makes the corn syrup in sweetened beverages so inexpensive," they wrote, according to Reuters.

Subsidies should instead be directed at vegetables, fruits and whole grains, they added. Check out this great chart from The Consumerist on why a salad costs more than a Big Mac.

Investors seemed to shrug at the researchers' findings Tuesday. Shares of Coca-Cola were unchanged, while Yum Brands saw a 4% increase.



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