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Should Governments Tax Soda, Sweets, and Junk Food?


With obesity and diabetes at record levels, many public health experts think governments should tax unhealthy food and drinks. Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, and Mexico have such taxes. So do Berkeley, California and the Navajo Nation. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is waging a high-profile campaign to get Britain to tax sugar, and similar discussions are underway throughout the United States.

Does it make sense to tax soda, sweets, and junk food? Would it improve health? Are there unintended side-effects? Do such taxes unfairly impinge on consumer freedom?

An expert panel explored these questions and more.



  • Maeve Gearing, research associate, Urban Institute                 
  • Baylen Linnekin, adjunct professor, George Mason University Law School
  • Donald Marron, director, economic policy initiatives and Institute fellow, Urban Institute
  • Y. Claire Wang, co-director, Obesity Prevention Initiative, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health


  • Margot Sanger-Katz, health care correspondent, New York Times
Event Materials

For inquiries regarding this event, please contact [email protected]

Support for this event has been provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. 

Date & Time Tuesday, December 15, 2015

  • Institute Fellow
    Director, Economic Policy Initiatives
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