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05/24/2009

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» Hits & Misses #2 - 2009/5/27 from John Goodman's Health Policy Blog
Who needs pharmacists? Vending machines are less hassle. Brain surgery on YouTube. It's not for the squeamish. Should we tax sodas? Becker and Posner (refreshingly) weigh in with the economic point of view. var addthis_pub = 'ncpaadmin'; var add... [Read More]

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Anonymous

testing

Anonymous

In several years of watching this blog, until this pair of posts by Becker and Posner on (not) taxing soft drinks, I've not seen them post anything that elicited zero comments as in the present case.

Consensus by silence?

Anonymous

It is because the comments section crashed after the posts a few weeks ago. There are now well over a thousand comments down there.

Anonymous

'Twas my -- M. David Peterson's -- fault for the lack of comments. Problem is now fixed, but again, 'twas my fault for not getting it fixed sooner. Sorry everyone!

Anonymous

This topic struck me as being fairly silly as FEW would think that a small tax would do anything to change soda slurping habits. The lack of effect would be as Posner states, as ineffectual as a small increase in gasoline prices are in dampening demand.

Posner is on the right track in suggesting getting rid of pop machines in schools; in most districts they got there by corporate bribery, that of splitting a tiny fraction of the gleanings with the sports coaches for uniforms and the like that the district itself often does not want to fund.

For our minor children I would not see it as overly intrusive for our public schools to teach and practice good nutrition.

Today, we see minors lining up at the Coke machine for a good jolt of caffeine combined with an amount of sugar few would pile on a bowl of cereal. Should be just great for balancing out blood sugar and providing our teachers with an attentive group of kids to teach.

I'd favor more research into the theory that HFCs DO screw up our metabolism as the levels of obesity seem unexplained by simply overeating or a sedentary lifestyle.

Thanks "Pete" for getting it fixed! Musta been a tough one!

Anonymous

Three things:

One, does anyone know the exact definition of soda in this context? For instance, as a member of the youth demographic, I just drank an energy drink that has 87 grams of sugar in it. Energy drinks, from this perspective, are just as, if not more harmful for today's youth consumers because they sell them advertising the vitamin content and the dramatic energy boost found within the beverage.

The second thing that I wanted to point out is that the Texas Education Agency and the state legislature banned the sale of soft drinks in Texas public schools some time ago. However one negative side effect is that Texas public schools can no longer derive any profit from the sales of soda and candy in their schools. At first this may sound mercenary on the part of the schools, but the money they earned inevitably went back to the students in some form or fashion (probably physical resources).

Lastly, alternatives to soda that are sold in convenience stores and supermarkets seem to cost, on average, significantly more. I don't see that a 10% tax on sodas would raise their price enough to make them less appealing than, say, healthier sports drinks.

Anonymous

Obesity is a major health issue for our nation interested in promoting genuine good health of its citizens.

The soda tax, no doubt, knowing little can be done seeks revenue that would be assured directing a false positive.

Thatguy

Anonymous

Three things: Good points and reason that taxing or banning would be impractical. "Natural only?" Corpies would find a way!

For schools what they serve seems one for democratic action; a "commish" made up of school nurse, perhaps district nutritionist, a few parents etc who'd meet rarely when something new was proposed.

Ha! as for the school "profiting" from the sale of pop, I know the game well, a few cents out of the pricey and profitable sugar water kicked back to the Physical EDUCATION coaches.

Surely it is better to teach kids (and parents?) that if they want activities they are much more efficiently funded by passing the hat than what amounts to corporate bribery to put Coke machines in the aisles. Good for Texas! where schools aren't doing so well, perhaps this will help!

Anonymous

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Anonymous

I would not see it as overly intrusive for our public schools to teach and practice good nutrition.

Anonymous

YA! LETS TAX THE SHIT OUTTA THAT SODA!

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Anonymous

I wanted to point out is that the Texas Education Agency and the state legislature banned the sale of soft drinks in Texas public schools some time ago.

Anonymous

For schools what they serve seems one for democratic action; a "commish" made up of school nurse, perhaps district nutritionist, a few parents etc who'd meet rarely when something new was proposed.

Anonymous

Today, we see minors lining up at the Coke machine for a good jolt of caffeine combined with an amount of sugar few would pile on a bowl of cereal.

Anonymous

I've not seen them post anything that elicited zero comments as in the present case.

Anonymous

Classic exposition, I have also mentioned it in my blog article. But it is a pity that almost no friend discussed it with me. I am very happy to see your article.

Anonymous

I recommend the introduction of substitute goods, such as soy milk juices. In south-america they are very popular, taste good and producers (ex. Unilever) are making a lot of money with them.

Anonymous

I was drunk when I read this article and I love it. Posner - please know that you have an avid following of drunk blog readers out there who are adamant admirers of your wonderfully straightforward logic and devilishly subtle wit.

Anonymous

Great work! Thank you!

Anonymous

It is because the comments section crashed after the posts a few weeks ago.

Anonymous

There are now well over a thousand comments down there.

Anonymous

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Anonymous

JAkNgU comment5 ,

Anonymous

The problem is not categorically "soda", but instead the high sugar content of the drinks/candy sold in the vending machines, backed by weak labeling laws.

The drink "manufacturers" (or whatever you want to call them) sell drinks with 4-5 grams of sugar per fluid ounce. The result is that a 12 ounce can has 50-60 grams of sugar and the 20 ounce bottles have nearly 100 grams. Of course, the "manufacturers" hide behind the fact that a 20 ounce bottle is 2.5 "servings".

If you really want reform, standardize the serving sizes, and require labeling to disclose milligrams for anything under 1 gram (regardless of whether it's sodium or anything else). Food processors have been gaming the trans fat regulation for years -- that is, if there's less than .5 grams in one "serving," they can claim the product has 0 grams trans fats, and then they reduce the serving size so that there's less than .5 grams in one "serving". Some packaged cookies and crackers will say 1 piece is a serving and that there's 60-100 servings per package. For years, soda companies claimed there were 2 servings in a can, even though everyone finished the whole can in one sitting. It's a categorical abuse of labeling.

But we don't have to go the Euro route (there, food manufacturers are required to use exactly 100g or 100mL, but no one uses 100mL of tabasco or salad dressing). However, we do need better regulation of the labels. The bottom line is that the serving sizes should be based on average normal consumption for a category of foods, not a ridiculously unrealistic amount the manufacturer picks so it can round down.

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