Over at RealClearAgriculture I have been blogging about food subsidies and soda taxes.
Research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds no link to obesity and soft drink consumption.
"We showed no association between sugar-sweetened
beverage consumption, juice consumption, and adolescent weight
gain over a 5-y period. A direct association between diet beverages
and weight gain appeared to be explained by dieting practices.
Adolescents who consumed little or no white milk gained significantly
more weight than their peers who consumed white milk. Future
research that examines beverage habits and weight among adolescents
should address portion sizes, adolescent maturation, and dieting behaviors."
This corroborates previous findings from the journal Nutrition:
analysis shows no evidence for an association between SSB consumption
at age 5 or 7 y and fat mass at age 9 y in this cohort of British
A recent blog post (link)
gets close to accurately reporting the issue of high fructose corn
syrup- a sweetener chemically identical to table sugar found in soft
and high-fructose corn syrup aren't the same. It appears that the
writer, Lois Rogers, conflated the two and jumped to all kinds of
incorrect conclusions. For example, that the research had anything at
all to do with "the obesity epidemic." It didn't."
environmental site Grist tends to see everything through an ideological
lens, and so is always on the hunt for evidence that high-fructose corn
syrup is somehow more harmful than common sugar"
But then the article starts to get off track in stating:
is cheap (high fructose corn syrup) in large part because of farm
subsidies. As a result, it is ubiquitous and is making a lot of people
fat, diabetic, and prone to heart disease."
Research taking the claim of a connection between obesity and farm policy in a more direct fashion can be found here( from UC Davis).
culprit here is not corn subsidies; rather,it is sugar policy that has
restricted imports, driven up the U.S. price of sugar, and encouraged
the replacement of sugar with alternative caloric sweeteners...Given
that consumers generally show limited responses to retail food price
changes, eliminating the corn subsidy would reduce corn-based food
consumption by at most 0.2 percent.""
this weak response of consumers to food prices undermines policies that
advocate taxing soft drinks to reduce consumption and obesity. Research
( from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University)
indicates that the taxes required to have any real affect on obesity
would be in the 1200 percent range, and even if taxes eliminated ( in
this case soda) consumption, the impact on obesity would be very small.
The study concludes that "the sensitivity of individuals to changes in
relative food prices is not sufficient to make “fat taxes” a viable tool
to lower obesity."
These campaigns are nothing more
than emotional appeals designed to solicit support for new taxes and
regulations that ultimately undermine the agriculture industry and
Media Gets Stuck in High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Daily Bread, The Business of Food Blog
The Big Money by Slate
Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27573
Adolescent beverage habits and changes in weight over time:
findings from Project EAT1–3
Michelle S Vanselow, Mark A Pereira, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, and Susan K Raatz
Nutrition July-August 2007, Volume 23, Issues 7-8, Pages 557-563
"Is sugar-sweetened beverage consumption associated with increased fatness in children?"
Taxing Sins: Are Excise Taxes Efficient
The Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Farm Subsidies and Obesity in the United States
Julian M. Alston, Daniel A. Sumner, and Stephen A. Vosti
Agricultural and Resource Economics Update
University of California
V. 11 no. • Nov/Dec 007