Fighting Obesity With Soda Tax

A major problem in the United States, but in many more countries around the world, especially highly developed ones, is obesity. It is even more alarming if obesity affects a large number of children. Obesity can have far-ranging negative effects on a person’s health, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, various kinds of heart diseases, joint problems, sleep apnea, cancer, metabolic syndrome and different psycho-social effects.

Healthier Lifestyle and Higher Prices – Less Obesity

One of the ways to fight obesity and influence people toward a healthier lifestyle, among many others, is a soda tax, a specific taxing system aimed at specific soft drinks. The logic is straightforward and the comparable example are cigarettes – raising the price of a product through increased taxation will lower the demand, hence people will drink less sugary drinks. The comparison, some say, is not in place, since cigarettes are not food (we do not need to smoke, but we have to eat) and, will people drink less sugary drinks because of the tax or because of better available information concerning the negative effects of sugar intake? And so on…

Let us look at some important facts. People, generally, do not need access to „added“ sugars in their diet. There is no need to introduce sugars other than the ones typically found in foods people around the world consume every day. For instance, natural orange juice contains many kinds of natural sugars, but sugary drinks contain other extra sugars ( mostly based on high fructose corn syrup). Some studies show that more than half of sugar in our diet comes from drinking soda drinks, sport drinks and other sugary beverages.

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Now, the main problem. Most of the ingredients found in sugary drinks with added sugars have no or very little nutritional value and healthy ingredients. There are very strong arguments, according to a growing number of scientific studies which confirm this, that these drinks are linked to obesity and diabetes. The problem exists because people, when they consume a high-calorie drink, do not feel full. Instead, to remedy this feeling, they eat and intake more calories. This means that drinking sugary drinks will not stop you from consuming food. And these extra calories will add up over time, causing weight gain.

Increase the Price – Lower the Demand

parentsloseweightkidsobesi_707113Some products are considered necessities, like milk and eggs. Even if the price of these increases, people will still continue to buy them. However, with products like sugary drinks, and many other, for that matter, which are not considered to be necessities (are not essential, staple food products), increased price usually means less demand and lower consumption. Consequently, this leads to lower calorie intake, and encourages weight loss.

Of course, besides the simple tax raise in order to raise the price of soda drinks, the complete strategy would also include organizing obesity prevention programs, setting up children’s health promotion funds and nutrition education programs in schools and communities. The money raised from this tax would be used, in short, to educate the people on the detrimental effects of sugary drinks consumption and promote healthier diet choices.