Soda Tax Support Gains Weight As New Study Lauds Benefits

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While heated debate continues to surround the introduction of a soda tax, a recent study provides new evidence about the potential health and monetary benefits of such a measure.

Published in the journal Health Affairs, study authors project that a penny-per-ounce tax would reduce soda consumption by 15%.  This hypothetical tax would result in U.S. adults consuming 9 fewer calories per day, and over a ten-year period this reduced consumption of sugar would prevent 2.6% of new cases of diabetes, translating into 26,000 fewer premature deaths and more than $17 billion in savings from medical expenditures.

Though the substantial amount of money that a soda tax would generate cannot be denied, the opposition takes issue with the evidence (or lack of it) that taxing soda will reduce consumption and decrease obesity.  Members of the American Beverage Association argue against the assertion that soda is metabolically toxic and go so far as to suggest that moderate consumption of soda is part of a “healthy, balanced, active lifestyle.”  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent move to ban large-sized sugary drinks has further incensed opposition and led to assertions that far-reaching government control infringes on personal freedoms and leads to a “nanny state.”

However, the new study has emboldened the AMA to endorse the idea    of soda tax as a way to fund educational programs.  The gravity of the obesity epidemic is sobering, and new findings incriminating soda will make it increasingly difficult to deny the utility of a tax.

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4 Responses to “Soda Tax Support Gains Weight As New Study Lauds Benefits”

  1. atate4 Says:

    The issue is an interesting one where health and government really collide. The issue to government interference seems to play a much larger roll in this debate compared to issues surrounding vaccinations for example. It is an important issue and I can see the argument for both sides.

  2. sbfphc Says:

    Yes, sugar is the new tobacco in terms of public health threats.

  3. dvandurme Says:

    It certainly makes sense to tax tobacco and alcohol both to help fund the health consequences of the products and to add a disincentive. One big problem is that foods that are calorie-dense and nutrient-poor are also much cheaper than foods that are far healthier. I would strongly support a higher tax on excessively sugary drinks but the category should not be limited to just soda. Fast foods, processed foods and others with excess sugar, salt and fat should be taxed to help subsidize the costs of healthier foods and as a disincentive.

  4. chenjo Says:

    As a avid soda drinker myself as well as a physician, I can see both sides of the issue. Though taxing calorie-dense and nutrient-poor foods might make these foods and drinks more expensive and harder to obtain, this solution misses the main problem: making healthy foods accessible and affordable to all. In poor, urban areas, fast food chains are so much more accessible, whereas healthier options are not readily available. Creating programs to make more healthy foods available to the nation’s poor needs to go hand in hand with any consideration of taxing soda and other nutrient-poor foods. Early education of our children in healthy food choices (similar to anti-smoking campaigns) and changing our nation’s mindset, as in Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” TV Show, would be an integral part of making our nation more healthy and fit.

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