A new study suggests that Americans would consume less sugary drinks if they had to pay a calorie-based tax.

The New York Times reported:

The study, financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has long advocated taxing sodas and other sugary drinks as part of its efforts to reduce childhood obesity, found that consumption of calories in drinks would drop 9.3 percent if a tax of four-hundredths of a penny for every calorie was added to the price, but fall by just 8.6 percent under a tax of half a cent for each ounce in a can or bottle.

A calorie-based taxing system would also be fairer to consumers, said Chen Zhen, a research economist at the food and nutrition policy research program at Research Triangle Institute and the lead author of the study.

“It provides a better incentive to the consumer to switch to lower-calorie drinks, which would be taxed at a lower rate than higher-calorie drinks,” Dr. Zhen said. “One of the concerns about taxing ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages is that consumers are paying the same tax whether they buy 12 ounces of a drink with 150 calories or 12 ounces of a drink with 50 calories.”

At a tax rate of four-hundredths of a penny per calorie, six cents would be added to a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola, for example, Dr. Zhen said, while only four cents would be added to a 16-ounce bottle of Vitaminwater.

“From a public health point of view, it makes a lot of sense to tax the sugar, which is the most harmful part of these drinks,” said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health. “We want to shift consumers from drinking more sugar to drinking less, so taxing beverages with more sugar more makes sense.”

The California Senate last week passed a bill for warning labels on sugary soft drinks. The State Assembly has not yet voted on the bill.

Shepard Smith and Kennedy, from Fox Business Network’s “The Independents,” discussed a calorie tax today.


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“These government nannies are creating now a federal nanny state,” Kennedy said, adding that the problem with measures like this one is that they tend to punish the poor.

“I see a direct connection between the government having more say in your health care and the government having more say in what you pay for things it deems bad for your body,” she told Smith.


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Kennedy also noted that childhood obesity rates are dropping for children ages 1 through 5.

“The Independents” co-host said she believes parents need to learn about nutrition and pass that knowledge along to their children.

Watch the segment above.