Are We Barreling Toward a “Fat Tax”?

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices (NYBC)—“a coalition of citizens, business and community organizations”—has organized to fight a proposed law that would ban sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces in New York City.

The organization cleverly positions its campaign around individual rights and “freedom of choice,” asking: If government takes away your right to choose your own beverage, what’s next?

Further, the organization argues on its website that “only education, diet and exercise” can reverse obesity trends in our country.

Look out NYBC: What if Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Department of Health decide to impose a “fat tax” instead?

So, instead of banning sugary drinks over 16 ounces, what if they tax them an extra 25 or 50 cents, with the money going to educational programs and to offset rising healthcare insurance costs? 

That would potentially open the door to taxing other “snack foods,” not unlike alcohol and cigarrettes. 

The Affordable Care Act may make health insurance less expensive, but I’m not sure how “affordable” it will become. By shifting its emphasis from a “soda ban” to a “fat tax,” NYC might also shift a larger conversation that needs to take place in our country: 

What are we really going to do about obesity—and its impact on rising healthcare costs that we all must pay?