Harris: Consumers oppose fast food, soda taxes

June 1, 2010
Restaurant executives looking for support in opposing pending 'sin taxes' on fattening foods and soft drinks have an ally: A new Harris poll says over half of consumers oppose such methods for curbing obesity.
Around the country, cities and states have been considering placing taxes on both soft drinks and fast food as a way to deter obesity. However, while certain groups may be in favor of imposing this "obesity tax," consumers, in general, are not. Over half of Americans (56 percent) are opposed to this tax going into effect with two in five (42 percent) being strongly opposed, according to a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll. Three in 10 (31 percent) support this tax being imposed.
The Harris Interactive poll surveyed  2,140 U.S. adults online between April 23 and 27. It presented the following question: "There have been discussions in certain areas of the country regarding taxing soft drinks and fast food as a way to deter obesity. How much would you support or oppose this tax going into effect?"
Baby Boomers, Southerners oppose the taxes most
Location and age make a difference in attitudes on "obesity taxes." Results by location include:
  • Easterners are the most supportive of the tax on soft drinks and fast food, with 42 percent supporting it and just half opposing it
  • Westerners were 35 percent likely to support "obesity tax," and 53 percent to oppose it.
  • Southerners expressed the least support for such taxes, with just one-quarter (25 percent) supporting the tax and three in five (61 percent) opposing it.
  • Midwesterners similarly expressed limited support, as 28 percent of them support the "obesity tax," and 57 percent oppose it.
The youngest U.S. adults are those most likely to support the tax on soft drinks and fast food. Two in five of those aged 18-34 (41 percent) support this tax and 42 percent oppose it, but there is also uncertainty as 17 percent are not at all sure. Baby Boomers are most opposed, as two-thirds of those aged 45-54 (68 percent) oppose this tax while only 24 percent support it.
Income and education differentiate
There are also differing opinions by education and income. Just one-quarter of those with a household income between $35,000 and $49,999 (25 percent) and under $35,000 (27 percent) support this tax compared to two in five of those with a household income of $75,000 a year or more (39 percent). Also, those who are more educated are more likely to support a tax on fast food and soft drinks. One-quarter of those with a high school education or less (24 percent) support the "obesity tax" compared to 34 percent of those who have attended some college and 41 percent of those with at least a college degree.

Topics: Health & Nutrition , Operations Management , Trends / Statistics

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