So if we cared mainly about people’s health, we should cheer this effort by soda forms to push people to exercise. Even if that also causes people to cut down less on soda. A population that exercises more doesn’t weight much less, but it lives much longer. In fact, exercise seems to be one of the biggest ways we know of by which an individual can influence their health. (Much bigger than medicine, for example.)
I suspect, however, that what bothers most people most about fat people isn’t that they’ll die younger, its instead that they look ugly and low status, and so make them also look low status by association. So we don’t want people near us to look fat. All else equal we might also want them to live longer, but that altruistic motive can’t compete much with our status motive.
That’s Robin Hanson. Follow the link for references to reaearch that back the health claims. I love this for two reasons.
First, it’s always fun to be contrarian and cheer a category of companies (soft drink firms) that educated white people like me are ‘supposed’ to hate.
More importantly, I love the chance to talk about how asking slightly different questions yields very different answers. It’s easy to be lazy and think that “What is the most effective cause of better health” is the same as “what makes people thin”.
It’s not, even if “not being obese” is on the list of things that improve health (but not #1).