On the other side of the Atlantic, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the introduction of a soda tax.

For example, governments in both countries have grown alarmed with low savings for retirement – resulting in large part from the transition from plans with defined benefits to plans with defined contributions a euphemism for save for your own retirement .

The best prospect for labeling to have an effect is through a kind of Tell-tale Heart effect, whereby food retailers and producers change their offerings or improve the nutritional content of existing selections in response to feared consumer reactions, even if such fears are only imaginary, like in the eponymous Edgar Allan Poe story.

All forms of junk food, not just soda, have become progressively cheaper than healthy alternatives in recent decades.

A comprehensive approach

One possible rationale for a soda tax is that the government should start by attacking the most egregious problems, and sweetened drinks are an especially attractive bull s-eye for policymakers given their lack of almost any nutritional component.

But to have any prospect of significantly improving diet, a more comprehensive junk food tax would have to be levied on a much broader range of sugary, fatty and nutritionally poor foods and drinks.

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