Did Bernie Sanders know he was parroting Big Soda’s deceptive framing when he bashed the Philadelphia mayor’s plan to fund universal preschool with a tax on sugary drinks, calling it “regressive” and a “grocery tax”?
The move rattled some of his supporters, who wondered how he could have missed the fact that soda is to groceries as flies are to soup: You might find them in the same place, but that doesn’t mean they’re both to be consumed for nourishment.
Worse, these particular “flies” are linked to diabetes, and as health policy professor Laura Schmidt pointed out:
“Diabetes is a regressive disease—it doesn’t just affect everybody evenly. It disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color.”
This is why many Sanders supporters also support a tax on sugary drinks. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich was a strong proponent of the Berkeley soda tax and wrote:
“Just like tobacco, we know a small tax reduces consumption. And just like tobacco, consumption of sugary soft drinks is a huge health problem.”
Author Anna Lappé wrote that as someone who feels the Bern, she hopes Sanders will change his tune on the Philadelphia sugary drinks tax and join the fight against Big Soda:
“Progressives have long understood that one of the ways to take on predatory industries whose products hurt the most vulnerable among us is through consumption taxes—something Sanders understands when he speaks in favor of taxing cigarettes.”
While the presidential candidates weigh in on the soda tax debate, a new study shows rates of severe childhood obesity continue to rise. Commenting to the Washington Post, lead author Asheley Skinner said:
"Almost one out of every ten children are now severely obese in this country. Think about that. These are kids who can't just grow out of it — they actually have to lose weight. Now consider that obesity rarely gets better, that it almost always gets worse. Obese children tend to become even more obese adults."
No wonder more cities are looking to implement sugary drink taxes to help solve the problem.