It’s only midday, but we’re declaring this the outrageous headline of the day: “Fizzy drink tax could save 67 lives: study”
Only in public health is it a revelation that taxing something makes it a bit less attractive to consumers and that by drinking less soft drinks, some people could avoid killing themselves, but it’s the odd specificity of the claim that makes this ‘study’ stand out.
So, the headline being what it is, how could a soft drink tax save 67 lives specifically, you might ask? By reducing a person’s energy intake by 20 kilojoules a day.
Researchers at the National Institute for Health Innovation at Auckland University, aided by Otago University, estimate such a tax would reduce energy consumption by 20 kilojoules a day, or 0.2 per cent.
This would be enough to help avert about 67 deaths from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and diet-related cancers a year, according to the study, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday.
That’s a measly 5 calories – that’s about as many calories as there are in a can of diet soft drink.
If there are 67 people out there so close to death yet so bent on avoiding even the measliest of changes to their eating and drinking habits that they could save their own lives by cutting just one diet soft drink from their diet every day then the cost of soft drinks is not the problem – those people are, and that’s not a problem you can attack with a tax on all soft-drinkers.
Although it’s just as likely that the problem is that publicly funded “health innovators” couldn’t interpret a risk anywhere near as effectively as they could interpret a research grant application.