|New York Sugar Beverage Soda Tax
By Michael Dorausch, DC
Would a tax on sugary soft drinks result in improved health benefits for the people of New York? According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the answer may be yes. According to New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Friedan and Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity and a professor at Yale University, a sugar tax would result in health benefits no matter how revenue from the taxing of soft drinks would be spent.
The two also concluded that the popularity of such a tax would be much better supported if proceeds would by dedicated to programs focused on helping children be healthier, such as childhood obesity prevention programs.
Dr. Darrel Crain has written about the topic of unhealthy sodas in the past, noting that over the years American corporations have been hard at work, pursuing new ways to penetrate the schoolyard market with sugary soda products. In his Profits in the schoolyard piece, Crain pointed out that soft drink vending machines have been a major success for large corporations in the schools.
In the article, Dr. Crain mentions that unfortunately, hidden from public view is the fact that we are being slammed by the actual cost of this ingenious short-term funding method for education. Epidemics of obesity, type II diabetes and osteoporosis are among the chronic diseases linked to guzzling soda pop.
Thomas Friedan and Kelly Brownell suggest the funds from taxing these products could be used for media campaigns, facilities where kids could engage in physical activity, as well as physical activity programs, and possibly more healthy food options appearing in the schools.
A poll of New York residents showed that more than 50% supported a soda tax, and the figure increased to over 70% when they were told that the money raised from taxing sugary soda products would be used to help child obesity.
What about osteoporosis? In The Herstory Of Bones, Dr. Madeline Behrendt reminds us that bubbles and bones don't mix. "Studies show it leeches calcium and children consuming soda had low blood calcium levels. Another study reported DOUBLE the urinary calcium loss in teens 13-19 (remember those are the years spent building towards peak bone density.)" Calcium being leached from the bones of soda drinking children is not a good thing.
In the article, 10 Tips on Living Better, Dr. Steven Hansen reminds us to cut out products like sodas that contain high fructose corn syrup and reduce intake of items like french fries cooked in partially hydrogenated soybean oil or vegetable oil.
Dr. Crane also addresses the the frustrations faced by schoolteachers when kids are hopped up on chemicals and sugars from soft drinks and other snacky treats, aka the Chemical Straightjacket. He mentions concerns for "today's overworked, underpaid teachers who are expected to inspire an entire overcrowded classroom of kids hyped up on sugar and junk food." Maybe no sodas in the classroom would be a good start.
Chiropractor Ed Leshin has come up with a tricky way to get kids eating healthier foods. You may not agree with his methods of purchasing boxes that feature popular super heroes among children, and loading those boxes full of vegetables. Check out his article to learn more about his strategies.
It's not only schoolkids that are affected by sugary soda pop, a 2006 study showed that cola was bad for bones in women as well. The study involving 2,500 people revealed that drinking cola was linked with low bone density in women regardless of their age or calcium intake. Researchers concluded women who are regularly drinking cola beverages could be increasing their risk of osteoporosis.
While most people don't like taxes of any kind, taxing unhealthy items like soda pop and sugary carbonated or even non-carbonated beverages may be a good idea. Of course, educating our young ones to make healthy choices is the primary task.