Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Industry fights NY 'obesity tax' plan

ALBANY, NY -- The American Beverage Association fought back today against critics who link sugary soft drinks with childhood obesity.

"Despite what Governor (David) Paterson and (Health) Commissioner (Richard) Daines claim, the science is clear: The association between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and obesity, if it exists at all, is so weak that total abstinence from soda drinking will have no impact on public health," said Maureen Storey.

Storey is the ABA's senior vice president for science policy. She spoke in testimony before a joint meeting of the state Senate Finance Committee and Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

The committees are meeting to discuss the state's Fiscal Year 2009 Budget, including Paterson's proposal to impose an 18% sales tax on dozens of beverages including regular soft drinks, juice drinks, and teas.

Storey said Paterson and his team rely heavily, if not entirely, on a study published eight years ago in the British medical journal, The Lancet. In that study, Storey contends, researcher Dr. David Ludwig and his co-authors acknowledge their study's limitations, admitting that they "cannot prove causality" between soft drink consumption and obesity.

"I would like to reiterate what the science already says: That soft drinks are not a unique contributor to obesity and to say otherwise is misleading to the people of New York State. And a so-called ‘obesity tax' on beverages would have no noticeable impact on the health of citizens," Storey said.

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