|Cases of sugary soft drinks for sale.|
However, other people know something else about obesity: There's lots of money in it.
That's why a phalanx of economic heavyweights are lobbying hard against a proposal to increase Colombia's tax on sugary soft drinks.
Big companies like Coke, Pepsi, the Oxxo junk food chain, and supermarkets all earn fortunes every year by pushing empty calories onto us. However, judging by the statements of Fenalco, Colombia's National Federation of Businesses, you might think that all they cared about were the 'little people'.
A tax on soft drinks, Fenalco warns, will cause layoffs in bottling plants, hurt mom-and-pop corner
|Soft drink industry workers protest a new tax on Plaza Bolivar.|
And whose to say that whatever money the poor don't spend on soft drinks won't be spent instead on healthier fruits, breads and even school books? Poor people tend to spend their limited money quickly. So that will generate other, different jobs.
|Obesity is a growing problem in Colombia.|
And tax critics are also correct in saying that all sugary foods should be taxed equally, and I'm at a loss as to why they don't just tax sugar at its source - perhaps because the sugar lobby is just too strong. But taxing soft drinksis, at leastt, a start.
The corporations have good reason for concern. In Mexico, California and other places soda taxes have been shown to decrease consumption. By the same token, higher cigarette taxes reduce smoking, especially among children, which is why it's good that the reform will also increase the cigarrette tax.
The lobbies against tax hikes on soft drinks, cigarettes and other harmful products are classic
|The Oxxo junk food chain pushes soft drinks.|
In a just world, companies would be required to pay the public costs caused by their products - in this case, disease, and, why not, the collection and disposal of all those discarded empty bottles.
|Pushing 'double sweet' treats outside a McDonald's in La Candelaria.|
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours