Tuesday Topic: Would A Soda Tax Encourage Healthier Eating?

Soda Aisle                                                               Image from Valestock/Shutterstock.com

A few days back, Jack Woodfield, a writer for diabetescommunity.com released Reduced sugar in diet and soda tax proposed by federal panel, an article addressing recommendations by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) comprised of 14 individuals from various fields. After reading the article, I asked myself – Would a soda tax really encourage Americans to choose healthier options?

The DGAC announced that sugar reduction is a matter of urgency. Roughly two-thirds of American adults are reported to be overweight or obese and 117 million Americans have one or more preventable chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, both or which are being called “major public health concerns” by the panel.  In addition to reducing sugar in the American diet, the report proposes a soda tax with revenues from this tax could then financially support greater implementation of healthy fruits and vegetables. The report also targets fructose, which is commonly found in soda and processed foods linked to increased rates of type 2 diabetes.

According to the article and 571-page report, “Higher sugar-sweetened-beverage taxes may encourage consumers to reduce sugar-sweetened-beverage consumption,”

A few questions immediately come to mind.

  1. How will soda tax revenues financially support greater implementation of healthy fruits and vegetables?
  2. Will this tax lower the cost of fresh produce encouraging Americans to purchase healthier foods?
  3. Will Americans really give up or cut back on soda and other processed foods?

The proposed tax reminds me of the increased tobacco tax implemented quite some time ago. I’d be curious as to how many smokers actually quit due to the increase in tobacco prices. Isn’t this a similar situation?The cynical person that I am seems to think that individuals who are ADDICTED to sugar will cut out healthy things to keep plenty of soda in their shopping cart. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

On a + note, – the DGAC recommendations hope to encourage/influence the following:

  • Eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains
  • Limiting red meat consumption
  • Implementing nutritional changes to lunches served in schools

By years end, the US departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services will assess the panel’s report and develop federal nutrition guidelines.  Can’t wait!

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