Soda Tax: Consider the Health Benefit and Paying for Healthcare

Friday, April 09, 2010 by: Deanna Dean
Tags: soda tax, health care, health news

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(NaturalNews) The new federal excise tax on soda and other sugary drinks is being considered by the Senate Finance Committee as they listen to proposals on how to pay for President Obama's universal health care plan, which is expected to cost more than $1 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a three-cent tax would generate $24 billion over the next four years. The tax also has the full support of many in the health industry including Washington based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which pressures food companies to make healthier products. Strong opposition is likely to come from an already tax burdened electorate and the beverage industry.

Michael Jacobson of the CSPI states, "Soft drinks are nutritionally worthless...[and] are directly related to weight gain, partly because beverages are more conducive to weight gain than solid foods." "Beverage companies market more than 14 billion gallons of calorie-laden soft drinks annually. That is equivalent to about 506 12-oz. servings per year, for every man, woman, and child." He contends that consumption would be less by around one percent and overall health would be improved for each penny tax on a 12 ounce drink. He goes on to say that $1.5 billion could be raised annually with this tax.

The obesity epidemic in the United States, according to the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, costs the United States an estimated $147 billion a year in health costs.

A research team led by Kiyah Duffey of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wrote, "While such policies will not solve the obesity epidemic in its entirety and may face considerable opposition from food manufacturers and sellers, they could prove an important strategy to address overconsumption, help reduce energy intake and potentially aid in weight loss and reduced rates of diabetes among U.S. adults."

"Our findings suggest that national, state or local policies to alter the price of less healthful foods and beverages may be one possible mechanism for steering U.S. adults toward a more healthful diet," Duffey and colleagues wrote.

Adding to the argument, a U.S. study found that increasing consumption of sugary soft drinks contributed to 130,000 new cases of diabetes and 14,000 new cases of heart disease in the last decade.

LSU Health Sciences Center at the New Orleans School of Public Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National reports that drinking more than five servings of sugar-sweetened cola per week before pregnancy appears to significantly increase diabetes risk.

Drs. Mitchell Katz and Rajiv Bhatia of the San Francisco Department of Public Health said taxes are a way to correct a market that favors unhealthy food choices over healthier options.
"Sadly, we subsidize the wrong things including corn, which makes the corn syrup in sweetened beverages so inexpensive," they wrote.

A group of prominent researchers in an article in the Sept. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine think the tax strategy could help support health care reform, while also funding programs to prevent obesity.

However, Susan Neely of the American Beverage Association, which represents Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and others, told the Wall Street Journal, consumption would not be lowered and poor Americans would feel the brunt of this tax the most. She said the industry actively supports programs in schools that encourage lower consumption of sugary drinks and that taxes won't teach or promote a healthy lifestyle for our children.

Mike Adams of Natural News has one of the most enticing ideas yet: "A far better option is educating consumers about the harm these products cause."

Your healthmate,
Deanna Dean
CBS News Politics/ May 12, 2009

U.S.|Health/Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGOMon Mar 8, 2010 5:04pm EST

Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

About the author

Deanna Dean is the Wellness Director for Your Health Coach, a company dedicated to health and wellness education.
Dee is a Wellness & Weight Loss Coach, a Certified Natural Health Professional, is pursuing an ND degree-Naturopathic Doctor, is a certified Raw Chef, certified in Dietary Guidelines from the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, former Personal Trainer, Yoga and Fitness Studio Owner, TV and Radio Guest, Health Columnist.
Deanna develops customized programs to enhance the health of her clients, educates, and coaches dieters for safe weight loss.

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