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Policymakers Propose Tax Increase on Soda

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Fortunately for me, when I was growing up my parents only allowed my brothers and me to drink one soda on Saturday and one soda on Sunday. Thus, the addiction to and craving for the acidic, fizzy can of goodness never became a mainstay in my regular consumption routine.

As a kid I cried “foul play!” As an adult I cry tears of joy, grateful to not have any desire to drink soda like so many others I know do.

The average American drinks 57 gallons of soda each year and sees repercussions for it.

Most notably, soda consumption is linked to weight gain, causing Americans to gain a pound or more each year. Drinking soda can also cause diabetes, increase the risk of osteoporosis, teeth erosion, kidney damage, increase blood pressure, impair the digestive system and lead to dehydration, to name a few.

Recent proposals at the Capitol are suggesting America tack on a substantial tax to sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Public health advocates have been pushing for a hefty tax as a way to reduce consumption of these products to help people lose weight and become healthier.

Research shows that a soda tax of 20 percent or 40 percent would generate about $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion in annual tax revenue. The 40 percent tax would cost the average household about $28 a year.

Currently, two-thirds of people in this country are overweight or obese. Obesity costs the country roughly $147 billion a year in increased medical expenses, according to another study by Finkelstein.

Some researchers says this study “is really positive news” and shows that the taxes could have a big impact on public health. Others, however, have a different take on the study, claiming that taxes like this don't work to solve a complex issue like obesity. Rather a soda tax would simply be putting a band-aid on top of a deep wound.

Those opposed to the soda tax argue that taxes don't make people healthier; what does make people healthier is making smart and educated decisions about diet and exercise.

While policymakers debate the soda tax, there are some healthy alternative you can substitute to make better beverage choices.

1. Give Soy Milk a Chance.

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December 15, 2010 - 12:45am
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