Archive for June, 2016

The Health Dangers of Sugary Drinks . . . Teach or Tax???

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Last week, Philadelphia became the first major city to pass a sugar tax bill.  Yes . . . it’s true! Starting January 1, Philadelphians (well, soda distributors first) will pay a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax for any sugary beverage purchased whether it’s canned, bottled or squirted from a fountain bar. And, trust me; this will affect thousands of drinks from sodas to sports drinks, energy drinks, and iced teas, bottled coffee and fake water.

Wait . . . What?  How the heck did this bill pass” I mean, nothing like this has ever happened even though the Center For Science in the Public Interest has repeatedly referred to soda as “liquid candy” and most Americans consume more than twice the recommended amount of sugar and, worst of all, many children regularly consume 40 pounds of sugar EACH year.  I’ve been teaching the dangers of sugar over-consumption for 25 years so I’ve watched other sugar tax bills fail (Richmond, California and Vermont) because the American Beverage Association spends hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting every political campaign that remotely suggests sugar as the bad guy.

So how did the Philadelphia City Council do it? Well, they took a different approach.  Instead of focusing on the “well-known” fact that sugary soda is unhealthy, they promoted the tax increase as a way of generating thousands of dollars for early childhood education, expanding pre-kindergarten programs as well as offering tax incentives to businesses that sell or promote healthy beverages.

As an anti-sugar-kind-of-person (duh), I’m happy about Philadelphia’s sugar tax. Even though, I would prefer to teach instead of tax, the end result will (hopefully) be the same . . . decrease sugar intake while increasing money for education. Both of these measures will ultimately decrease childhood obesity, childhood diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and, just as important, increase the public’s health knowledge about sugary soda.