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His co-authors included Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Joe Thompson; New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley; University of North Carolina obesity expert Barry Popkin; University of Illinois economist Frank Chaloupka; and Harvard nutrition and obesity experts Dr. Walter Willett and Dr. David Ludwig.
But the beverage industry will no doubt fight a legislative proposal like that, Brownell and others said. PepsiCo threatened to move its corporate headquarters out of New York before that state dropped efforts to implement an 18-percent sales tax on sweetened beverages, they noted.
The American Beverage Association disputed that the soda tax would reduce obesity rates.
"We agree that obesity is a serious public health issue, but the solution put forth by these researchers simply won't work," the trade group said in a statement. "Reducing obesity will only be addressed through comprehensive solutions."
Thompson, the Arkansas surgeon general, said one reason soda taxes fail is that consumers don't view sugared beverages as an important source of their weight problems.
"That's a new concept" that may take a while to gain wide acceptance, he said.
Brownell said it is more likely that soda taxes would be adopted first by states, than by the federal government.
"That's what happened with tobacco. The states were on it long before there was federal action," he said.
On the Net:
New England Journal: http://nejm.org/
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