Last week Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin appeared on the evening newscasts of Washington, DC's ABC and Fox affiliates. Linnekin was critical of two proposals that would restrict access to soda and other sweetened beverages in the District under the guise of combating obesity.
One proposal, floated by DC council member Mary Cheh, would attach an excise tax to purchases of soda. Critics--including Linnekin--have long argued that data does not support such a tax. The other, suggested by two other council members, would be modeled after New York City's wrongheaded and illegal ban on subjectively "large" portion sizes.
In his two television appearances, Linnekin argued on behalf of Keep Food Legal and its member and supporters in the District that enactment of these proposals would serve as little more than a tax increase on low-income consumers (who drink soda at higher rates than do middle- and upper-income consumers) that would not improve anyone's health. Furthermore, since obesity rates have been rising even as soda consumption has fallen over the past decade, the claimed causal connection for these taxes and bans simply does not exist, a point Linnekin made in his remarks on ABC affiliate WJLA:
Baylen Linnekin of the group “Keep Food Legal” says the District shouldn’t legislate what people should and shouldn’t eat or drink.
“Consumption rates of sweet drinks have been going down for a decade and yet obesity has been going up. Soda isn’t the culprit,” says Linnekin.
His Fox 5 comments focused on the rights of consumers to make their own decisions.
"It all boils down to food freedom of choice. It's not up to government to tell us what we should eat and shouldn't eat."
Read more about Keep Food Legal's efforts to promote beverage freedom of choice here.