Chicago held hearings this week on whether to tax soda to fight obesity.
Childhood obesity in the U.S. has more than tripled in the last 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC states that in 2008, a third of U.S. children were overweight or obese. The percentage of children 6 to 11 defined as obese rose from 7 percent in 1980 to almost 20 percent in 2008.
“We know that taxing at the right level can reduce consumption of sugary drinks and that reducing consumption will help reduce the prevalence of obesity,” Fox Chicago quoted city Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair during the hearing. Fox Chicago reported that Choucair testified the industry spent $948 million on marketing, with much it directed at children.
However, critics during the hearing said that the tax would reduce sales and put people out of work.
“Consumers have a choice,” Fox Chicago quoted Dan Raskin, owner of Manny's Cafeteria and Delicatessen. “And raising taxes will be scaring them away from restaurants, in general. The restaurant industry is just beginning to come out of the recession.”