Will Taxing High Fructose Corn Syrup Fight Obesity?

Timing could be better considering the latest warnings of sugar shortages and price spikes by U.S. food manufacturers, but at least one public health communications and marketing researcher believes a tax on high fructose corn syrup could help in the fight against America’s obesity epidemic. I caught up with Dr. R. Craig Lefebvre, a professor at George Washington University School of Public Health’s Department of Prevention and Community Health, in Atlanta this week after he took part in a panel discussion at the CDC’s National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media. Dr. Lefebvre suggested that directly taxing consumers who buy sugary drinks or foods would be much more regressive than taxing manufacturers who use high fructose corn syrup. His argument: while producers may want to pass on the higher costs to their customers, market pressures may force them to come up with ways to reduce their dependence on high fructose corn syrup without raising prices. What do you think of Dr. Lefebvre’s proposal?