'Obesity tax’ neglecting nutrition facts, claims drink maker

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Soft drink Nutrition

A manufacturer of natural sparkling soft drinks hopes to stir further debate over a proposed ‘obesity tax’ on carbonated beverages in the state of New York by pushing for greater recognition of nutritional quality in the products.

Fizzy Lizzy, a group that supplies all natural juice-based beverages without added sugars or corn syrups, claims that​governor David Patterson’s tax proposals are ignoring the issue of nutritional content. The group therefore hopes to push amendments that would work in favour of natural soft drinks that contain vitamins, minerals or other nutrients.

Liz Morrill,​group founder and chief operating officer, touts Fizzy Lizzy as a company battling with the beverage ‘big boys’, though now hopes to get the attention of the New York State Assembly in protest at a tax she claims is ‘irrational’ in its focus.

Obesity tax

Governor Patterson and a number of health groups believe sugary products are a significant contributor to rising levels of childhood obesity in the US as well as in other global markets.

Citing Harvard University research, Patterson argues that for both adults and children alike, consuming sugary and carbonated soft drinks everyday can increase the risk of obesity.

The governor therefore believes that an 18 per cent tax rate on such beverages could drive a five per cent decline in consumption.

Morrill says in response that the added tax would impose tariffs on sparkling juice products and a number of other packaged beverages in New York City of more than 26 per cent.

Carbonated concern

Using her own tangerine flavored branded beverage as an example, Morril said that the proposals would put no charge on 100 per cent juices, yet levy tax on Fizzy Lizzy drinks that she claims contains 100 calories and 24 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce serving.

“Even more perplexing is the fact that diet sodas get a pass but all non-diet carbonated beverages, regardless of calorie and nutritional content, are heavily taxed,”​ she stated. “Oddly, almost all non-carbonated beverages without regard to nutritional profile get a pass.”

As part of the protest, Morril believes that if an ‘obesity tax’ is to be passed it should avoid​mindlessly demonizing’ carbonated beverages and consider instead calories and sugars on a per ounce-basis.

Related topics Regulation Minerals

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