How to reduce obesity in Mississippi? Tax it away

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2010 at 4:12 am

MLB pitchers and catchers have begun to report to camp, and for many baseball enthusiasts the return of America’s game is imminent. “This is just the first batter in the first inning.” This sounds like something I tell my best friend when I’m talking about A-Rod’s first at-bat against the Red Sox. Actually, Mississippi state representative John Mayo of Clarksdale said this in response to a proposed bill he’s sponsoring to combat obesity in Mississippi. The proposed legislation Sweetened Beverages and Syrups Tax Law “would require soft drink distributors and retailers to pay a tax of $2.56 a gallon, or two cents an ounce, for sweetened soft drinks.”

Stennis Institute’s Judith Phillips’ study “Obesity and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: An Overview for Decision-Makers” lays out the significant factors that assist in making Mississippi one of the most obese states in the union. The report also discusses the significance soft drinks have had in this growing public health problem. According to the study, “…the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to weight gain in children.” Taxing soft drinks is not a widely used practice, yet potentially “…more significant price interventions might have a measurable effect on obesity, particularly for children, adolescents, low income populations, and those most at risk for overweight.”

For Mayo, he understands the opponents’ challenge to the proposed legislation, “but with a problem of this scope — obesity — private business will respond as a result of either implemented government policy or threatened government policy.” To read press coverage of this topic, click here to visit the Memphis Commerical Appeal.


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