A Tax to Combat America's Sugary Diet

A number of scientific studies have found that the amount of sugar Americans consume is a major factor in how big they have become. In the last half-century, consumption of sugars by the average American has increased by more than 24 pounds a year.

The studies indicate that the main dietary culprit for both the increase in sugar and the weight of Americans has been the ever-growing consumption of sugary drinks, especially soda.

To improve the health of its residents and its coffers, New York State, among others, is considering an excise tax of about one penny per ounce on high-calorie sweetened beverages.

The American Beverage Association, which takes major credit for an 88 percent reduction in sugared soda calories in the nation’s schools, has seriously undermined its credibility with ads opposing the so-called soda tax. In association-sponsored commercials on television and radio, homemakers spout the spurious argument that such a tax would make it more difficult for them to feed their families.

But soda is not a food, nor a basic necessity. In fact, the people likely to benefit most from a soda tax that discourages consumption are those who find it hardest to make ends meet. These are the people who can least afford to waste hard-earned dollars on empty calories that undermine their health.

+ Sources and References