NEW YORK -- When former President Bill Clinton enlisted the beverage industries in fighting childhood obesity, he did not expect so much progress in just four years.
"I have to admit I'm stunned by the results," Clinton said. "There has been an 88 percent reduction in the total beveraged calories shipped to schools." The industry is now selling healthier - instead of high calorie - drinks to students. Still not good enough, say public health officials.
A growing number of cities and states want to reduce adult consumption of sugary drinks by taxing them. New York has revived a proposal to impose a penny per ounce tax on sweetened beverages. Colorado has already levied such as tax. So has Illinois. California is considering it.
"People will often ask, 'why pick on sugared beverages,'" said Kelly D. Brownell of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. "The science linking sugared beverages to negative health outcomes is very strong."
A penny per ounce tax on sugared beverages would mean that a two liter bottle of Coke would cost you 68 cents more.
Three-quarters of New Yorkers polled recently support the soda tax. But while the industry agreed to slash shipments of sugary drinks to schools, it is fighting a beverage tax.
"It wouldn't work if it's supposed to solve a complicated problem like obesity," said Susan Neely of the American Beverage Association. "The tax is not going to change behaviors."
A study released Monday suggests it would, claiming an 18 percent price increase on soda would lead people to trim 56 calories from a daily diet. That's a five pound weight loss over a year.
New York's mayor estimates a tax would raise $1 billion -- suggesting what's good for the waist line could be good for the bottom line.