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Friday, 2 June 2017

Sugary drinks are ‘uniquely harmful’: Opposing view

Sugary drinks are the No. 1 source of added sugar in the American diet.

A soft drink vending machine is seen in a cafeteria in Boston.
The time has come to tax sugary drinks like we tax tobacco. The analogy is powerful: As with tobacco, rock-solid evidence shows habitual use harms health. Sugary drinks are a prime culprit in rampant health problems — diabetes, obesity, and heart, dental and liver disease – that cut lives short and drive up health care costs.

Tobacco taxes have reduced smoking, while raising money to make lives better. Taxing sugary drinks would do the same: Philadelphia’s new tax will pay for initiatives like pre-K to improve the life chances of poor kids while reducing sickness and medical costs, as people shift to non-sugar drinks. Berkeley’s tax is supporting diabetes prevention, nutrition education and access to fruits and vegetables.

Excise taxes — whether on tobacco, alcohol or sugary drinks — are a time-honored way to raise needed revenue while alerting consumers to health risks. Taxing sugary drinks also will nudge Big Soda to create and promote products with less, or no, sugar.

Why focus on sugary drinks such as soda, sports and energy drinks and fruit-flavored drinks? Because they are uniquely harmful. They have little to no nutritional value but are the No. 1 source of added sugar in the American diet. Just one 20-ounce Coke has 120% of the daily maximum recommended under federal guidelines for a healthy diet.

Yet we continue to drink too much, driven by the billions Big Soda lavishes on marketing, especially to young and poor people. And that spending pays off: Half of U.S. adults and two-thirds of youth consume at least one per day — adding up to 50 gallons per person each year.

Big Soda is following Big Tobacco’s playbook to protect profits derived from unhealthy products.

Because we care about the health of our children and communities, we must fight back with the tools that have proven so effective in reducing tobacco use, such as taxes and hard-hitting public information campaigns.

Source USA Today
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