I chuckled today reading a story on the Huffington Post about Massachusetts’ new rules dictating what food and beverages can be sold to kids in schools.  Among the banned items: candy, soda, french fries and chocolate milk. 

But what isn’t banned are things like fruit juices that contain as much (and sometimes more) sugar as sodas.  I’m going to enjoy watching the list of banned items grow longer and longer as these sanctimonious food nannies try desperately to control every single calorie consumed by children. 

But it’s going to get really fun when these school officials start peeking in kids’ backpacks to make sure the contraband hasn’t made it into a home-packed lunch.  Too far-fetched, you think?  Well, it’s already happening in Great Britain.   

Or maybe we’ll see a rabid group of parents yelling at kids walking to school who do the unthinkable–stop off at a convenience store for a morning snack (as we’ve already seen in Philadelphia). 

The Huffpo writer’s research wasn’t very up-to-date.  In the article (presumably written this week), he uses tired old research to suggest these food bans and sin taxes work: 

Researchers have determined that sugary sodas are the biggest concern due to their large content of empty calories. CNN reports that soda contributes 10 percent of the calories in the average American diet. According to a 2001 study by Harvard endocrinologist Dr. David Ludwig, sweetened drinks are the only food that has been directly linked to weight gain.

 Oh look, it’s Dr. “Put Fat Kids in Foster Care” again. 

Let’s break down what Dr. Scary Man has to say about sugary drinks. If it is indeed true that sodas are “directly linked to weight gain,” than sin taxes on these items surely should work to bring down obesity, right?


If the HuffPo writer had updated his research, he’d know that the latest research shows these soda taxes don’t even impact its intended audience because, as a 2011 study out of Northwestern University states, “A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages may not work to reduce obesity – because obese people could have a stronger tendency to buy diet soda.” 

Oh, I’m laughing so hard, I almost spit out my diet soda. 

As I wrote last year in an oped for Townhall, these sin taxes do nothing more than raise the price on the foods we love…and we just keep buying them. 

Take for instance taxes on sodas. This year, New York Governor David Paterson proposed a penny-an-ounce tax on soda in his state budget. This would amount to a 12 cent hike in the price of every soda and increase the cost of a 12-pack of soda from $2.99 to $4.43. The proposal also included a $38 tax on large bags of syrup sold to restaurants. For families on a strict budget and restaurants already dealing with a diminished customer base, that’s a significant increase. Not to mention, that we can all say a big goodbye to those popular free refills! But Governor Paterson’s proposal is relatively low compared to the taxes for which other politicians have called. Just this week, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter proposed a 2 cent per 12-ounce beverage tax, which is just outmatched by Chicago’s current sugary drink tax of 3 cents. 

And what about those states that have had soda taxes for years?  How are those citizens faring in the ole’ weight department?

Unfortunately, the data suggests that these taxes aren’t succeeding in driving down Americans’ weight. Of the top ten fattest states in the Union, three–West Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas-currently tax sodas and sugary drinks.