As for taxing sugary treats, he said, “Mark my words, this one will come.” Just as the sharp increase in tobacco taxes has led to “700,000 fewer deaths a year,” Summers believes that the “overwhelming evidence” that sugary snacks are a cause of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and perhaps premature death means that one day there will be a tax on these junk foods that will have the same impact that the tobacco tax has had. (For a look at the evidence on smoking and taxes, see the Congressional Budget Office’s report.)

Unfortunately for those who would like to use tax policy to discourage people from consuming junk food, for the moment, taxes on fatty products have a very short shelf life. The only country that has implemented such a tax, Denmark, will eliminate the tax in January — just over a year after introducing it.