Re: “Researchers recommend soda tax” (Sept. 18). A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would have no measurable impact on obesity, and so, as policymakers seek ways to fund health-care reform, we encourage them to seek policies that are based in both science and common sense.

A study conducted by Harvard researchers and published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year concluded that all calories count — regardless of their source — when it comes to losing weight. In fact, both West Virginia and Arkansas have excise taxes already in place, yet those states have among the 10 highest rates of obesity in the nation. Further, a tax on sweetened beverages would have no measurable impact on obesity. In fact, a recent George Mason University paper states that even a 15-cent tax added to a 75-cent soda would only decrease the BMI of an obese person from 40.00 to 39.98. That’s a difference that’s not even measurable on a bathroom scale.

There is no doubt that obesity is a serious and complex problem, but it requires thoughtful and comprehensive solutions. We simply can’t tax our way to better health.

Maureen Storey


Sept. 24

The writer is the senior vice president for science policy at the American Beverage Association.