Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How Does 15 Thousand Million Dollars a Year for Nutrition Research Sound?

I've heard lots of options for what to do with soda tax revenues. From subsidizing fresh fruits and vegetables, to increasing funding to school lunch programs, to establishing obesity treatment centres and programs, and more.

Here's one more thought.

A penny per ounce soda tax would generate an estimated $15 billion per year in the US (and presumably near $1.5 billion per year in Canada).

Could those monies be used to put an end to all food industry funded studies, partnerships, and promotions?

Off the record I've been having some conversations with two very prominent, industry funded scientists. They'd love the opportunity to access non-industry sources of funding so as to remove any concerns related to conflicts of interest.

And honestly, $15 billion is a great deal of money. There'd be plenty to go around. For instance, a fund could be created to service research, but also to allow for non-profits to apply to have their food industry funding matched (in return for dropping their food industry funders), schools to eliminate food industry sponsored sports, pouring right contracts and vending machines, etc.

Suddenly all of the heated concerns and discussions around public private partnerships, research conflicts of interest, undue influence, would cease to exist.

Of course there's no guarantee soda tax revenues would be used for anything health or weight related and moving forward, if and when soda taxes are discussed, debated, and implemented, here's hoping that the money they generate will be earmarked for something health related, and not just used to pad to a government's bottom line.

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