sugar tax on drinks

Proposed Sugar Tax Aimed at Slimming Down America

Tax on sugary drinks may ease obesity epidemic eventually, but you can start slimming now.

Proposed Sugar Tax Aimed at Slimming Down America

Drink fast: A tax on sodas and sugary drinks could be in the works.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The country has slurped its way into a very unsweet situation. Soda spiked with high-fructose corn syrup, high-calorie sports drinks, and sugar-shocked juices could be the biggest drivers behind the obesity epidemic. And as states like New York and Maine consider slapping high taxes on these belt-busting beverages to mitigate a public health crisis, many health officials and obesity experts agree it’s a good idea. “A penny per ounce tax could reduce consumption of sugared beverages by more than 10 percent. It is difficult to imagine producing behavior change of this magnitude through education alone, even if government devoted massive resources to the task,” wrote Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, and Thomas Frieden, MD, health commissioner for the City of New York. Their editorial was just published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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THE DETAILS: Other experts agree that making sugary drinks pricier will lead to people consuming fewer of them, reducing the prevalence of obesity. It’s a “sin tax” approach that’s helped decrease cigarette use, says Barry Popkin, PhD, author of The World is Fat: The Fads, Trends, Policies, and Products That Are Fattening the Human Race (Penguin, 2009). “As an economist who works on this topic, a tax on sugar in beverages is the closest thing in the food and drink and obesity world to a cigarette tax,” he says. “A tax on sugar added to beverages is the best way to reduce calories, diabetes, and weight gain in the United States.” The tax could help ease childhood obesity: Research shows that for each additional can of sugared beverages consumed in a day, a child’s risk of becoming obese increases by 60 percent. Cutting obesity levels would also affect the economy. Obesity and all the related illnesses that come along with it cost the U.S. an estimated $80 billion annually, and half of that bill is footed by taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid programs.

WHAT IT MEANS: Whether or not a sugar tax is a good idea, paying more attention to the calories we drink sure is. Back in the 1970s, Americans took in about 70 calories a day in beverages; by the year 2000, people were drinking 190 calories a day. And usually, we don’t even notice we’re doing it. “When we consume sugar in a beverage, we do not reduce our food intake, so it adds calories to our diet,” Popkin explains. Don’t wait for the government to try and tax you into slimness, though. Take steps now to keep liquid calories out of your meal plan.

Tax or no tax, here’s how to shrink your waist by changing your drinking habits:

• Eat it, don’t drink it. Get your healthy sugar from fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, not beverages that come with extra calories and contain few nutrients. Instead of apple juice, for example, you’re better off eating the apple. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that people eating 2,000 calories a day shouldn’t eat more than 10 teaspoons of refined sugar daily—that’s 40 grams, about the amount in a single can of soda. But many nutritionists say it’s better if that number’s even lower.

• Know what to cut out. According to the Beverage Guidance Panel, which ranks beverages from Level 1 (drink as often as possible) to Level 6 (avoid), water should be your main beverage; sodas and sweetened beverages (iced tea and juices) are among the worst choices. See a more complete list in Monday’s story about beverages and weight loss.

• Don’t be fooled by “natural” sugar. In response to the backlash against high-fructose corn syrup, some companies are offering “natural” soda sweetened with real sugar. Either way, it’s still sugar, so try to keep it out of your cup.

• Know the code words. Look on labels to see if these sweetened words appear on the ingredients list, and limit your consumption of drinks sweetened with them: glucose, sucrose, lactose, honey, maltose, dextrose, fructose, molasses, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, corn sweetener, juice concentrate, natural sweeteners, refined sugar, turbinado sugar, confectioner’s (powdered) sugar.


Published on: April 10, 2009

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I guess it will still depend

I guess it will still depend on the people's self-discipline. That's also a good idea that people won't something so expensive. Great article. Have a great day! Kyle Thomas Glasser

RE: lost jobs?

That's sort of like saying, "I get paid to destroy things so it's good" Maybe we can find more useful employment if we try.

And I guess you're happy being ripped off by your insurance companies, although the present plan only partly addresses that.

Government regulates the healthcare industry now, it's just a change in those regs. Wonder why the insurance companies are against it? It'll hurt their profits and of course in your view anything that makes a profit is good regardless of the harm done by doing it.

re: sugar tax and exercise

It's true, when one is young and things are working well in the body and one gets plenty of exercise the sugar is not as much of a problem. However, we are all destined to lead more sedentary lives as we grow older as the nature of work has changed and few have active jobs. Habits formed young stick with you and as you have your third soda of the day you will say, "it never bothered me when I was a kid"

It's actually not that good for the kids either, but active kids can get away with it.

RE: Fats or Sugar tax?

It's not the fat, it's the sugar. People don't want to give up sugar because it's as addictive as alcohol maybe more so. Once one gets off the high carb diet the fats become the fuel and no problem. Blood cholesterol actually will go down on a low carb higher fat diet.

Tax sugar!

Fat Tax

I think it's a great idea! They should tax ALL things that are bad for us! Sugary candies, drinks, and sweets are unhealthy! It would be great to put a tax on them to make it harder for people to eat them. Why would you want to have all that bad stuff in your body anyway?! and

@Debbie Rivers: FYI, sugars sometimes cause fatigue and laziness, which is why you feel slugish after eating abunch of cake. which is ALSO why kids dont feel like going out to play, because they have a poor diet which consists of unhealthy sugars!

Sugar Tax

My brothers, cousins, and friends all drank sugary drinks when we were kids and not one of us was over weight. We drank Kool-Aid, Gatorade, and soda when we were playing frisbee, football, kickball, crochet, baseball, riding our bikes, walking through water drain pipes, building forts, jumping rocks in the brook, paddling canoes in the lake, fishing, climbing trees, doing chores, building dams, making jumps for our bikes, playing catch with my Dad, and walking to my friends house. That's the problem today, many kids do not get outside!!! Being able to be outside and be a kid is not as safe as it used to be. However, adolescents are glued to computers, TV's, and video games.


well folks hang on to your hat. we have seen nothing yet. We are going to be controlled on tons of items. The United States will never be the same. Healthcare is the just the beginning.

Sugar Tax

The Constitution doesn't allow for forced health care and premiums to go with it either, but that's what we're now facing. Thanks to the liberal progressives in the Whitehouse we can now look forward to more of the same. Oh and let's not forget the thousands of jobs lost because of the downturn in soft drink purchases, jobs from the farm to the factory to the grocery store. Don't worry though, Obama will take care of us all. Wake up America while you still have the right to vote tax free.

fat tax

I'm in agreement that drinks with sugar should be taxed more. they should tax everything that's back for one's health...
red soda candy etc...nannybrain politicians...potatoe wait, thay tax living and the dead..Oh well on that one..You all get my drift..
when the jerks increased sin taxes I spoke up against them..I said what's next? Sugar? Opppps!! I was right...I wonder where all of you that oppse this fat tax were at tha time? heads in the sand?
You give nanny liberal piloiticians and inch, they will take a yard...and well, they are. We all get what we deserve for NOT standing together when they started the anti smoking junk now it's your turn!!!!!!!!

sugar tax

Ya, but it is the government's business to help a person when they are no longer able to help themselves. I provided home care for a woman in her home that was so obese that she could not care for herself. I had to cook for her, wash her body, (including skin folds in her stomach & back which harbor bacteria)clean her house, shop for food, and even wipe her butt because she was so obese (fat) that she could no longer do it for herself.
Should the government as in medical assistace or medicare deny these people help? And what about everyone's health insurance preimums increasing because the person sitting next to you is 250 pounds and eating a triple cheese burger, large fries and a large soda? Is that nobody's business except their own?
I say get the word out that obesity is a self destructive illness, and people need to take it seriously.
A tax on sugar could be used to treat diabetes, heart problems, joint problems. We could use the money to set up fitness centers and have supervised instruction for children and well as adults!

sugar tax

I am a nurse, and i see many, many problems related to obesity. These problems can interfer with a person's ability to live a normal life.
Who wants to have knee or hip pain daily because of an extra 60, 70, 80, or 200 pounds on their body? Bones and joints are made to carry a normal body weight, and like anything else, too much stress can cause problems.
Same goes for a person's heart, lungs, feet and muscles. Also obesity as we know has a huge impact on a person's self image.
We cannot soley blame the parents for a child's obesity. I agree that the parent is the responsible person for what their child eats.
Let's face it Coca Cola and Pespi are great advertisers. There is huge amounts of money to be made by targeting families, teenagers and children to buy their products. Most parents find it very difficult to compete against the media.
I think if we continue to let people know that there is a danger in too much soda, or other empty calorie (no nutrition) drinks, that eventually more people might sit up and take notice.
One of the most difficult part of being a nurse is asking a nine year old to step on the scale and read the number "194". I am not kidding. Many teenagers are obese as well. What teenager wants to be 250 pounds? I weigh 14 year old girls that are 190 pounds every day. Parents are defensive, and the kids would rather not think about it, or talk about it. You know that they do spend a lot of time internalizing their weight problem.
Lets do everyone a favor and not have soft drinks a part of dailyl life!!

Taxes really?

Next they'll try and tax the air we breathe. Who the hell do they think they are. Get ready for a hard fought battle to keep this one from passing. Soda is already taxed. Completely rediculous!

Sugar tax

It's the parents fault that Children ae FAT!!!!!!! As for me paying a sugar tax is totally unfair as i do not allow my family to drink that much soda. What about Juice...will also be taxed. If this tax is going into effect then i think that the people should get a complete accounting of the funds received and what it was spent on. You and i know that parents will just pay and not care as they do not care about their children! Just another way for our government to tell us what to do. What's next tax on food we eat??

Sugar and Fat Tax

Only if the demand for sugar-filled products is elastic. For example, if prices go up by 1% and demand falls by more than 1%, then firms making these products earn lower revenue and in such a case, yes, they will divert resources to produce alternatives.

However......I seriously doubt that the demand for things like cocacola is elastic. More likely it is highly inelastic...meaning that as prices increase consumers simply pay more rather than change their consumption patterns. Maybe if you were to double the price of a coke it would significantly alter demand, but a 1 penny increase in way!

Education+Freedom to choose.

I'm moving to Australia, this is ridiculous.

tax a little now or get taxed much more later

pay a little now, curb the consumption of sugar, people get healthier, cost of health care cost goes down by BILLIONS, what is the downside?

sugar and fat tax

If you tax sugar and fat and subsidize fiber and protein that puts the food industry in the mode to avoid the tax and seek the subsidies which will result in healthier products. The reason cocoa puffs have 12g of sugar per serving and only 1g of fiber is because sugar costs less per gram. Taste is secondary.

Sugar Tax

Make sure we say this correctly "Behavior Modification thru Taxation". Logic dictates that I must smoke more to help the "uninsured children" and I must consume more sugar tax products to help the non-insured pay for health care. It is good for me and good for the country therefore it must also be my Patriotic duty to pay this and all such say they! When the pass the "Methane Tax" based on farm animal waste I am sure that will be good for all of us also. They are just getting started, it would be hilarious if it were not so serious.

Sugar Tax = Corn Stupid

Sugar we digest fine. Sure we can get fat if we have too much and too little physical activity - but did ya know we don't really gain a darn thing from Corn Syrup?
Most sodas are made with corn syrup - not sugar.
When they attempted BioFuel made from corn - I had friends up north happy that they wouldn't have to "watch corn rot in silos anymore". But the corn industry suddenly said "Oh No. We don't have enough corn for such an endeavor. We'll have to hike the prices!" and soon the trickle down effect hit us everywhere because livestock eats corn. (2007-2008 for those out there with the attention span of a mosquito)

If we tax Corn Syrup instead of Sugar, we may actually get soda we can digest. Have a drop in acid reflux occurrences. Have more corn available for livestock feed and biofuel.

But I don't think that's in the cards.
I file the Sugar Tax under "You're doing it wrong"

sugar tax

What has happened to the country I used to once call home? What happened to freedom of choice? What happened to freedom period? The scary thing is people don't seem to understand what is occurring around them. Wake up America, wake to the realization that what is being forced down our throats is much worse than a can of coca-cola. We need to read between the lines and not be blinded by what is being told is good for us, but believe what we feel is right inside! How have we become such pushovers, our fore fathers would be disgusted with our passiveness. Let us the people make history, not some clown politicians who are so out of touch they have no business telling us anything! So let America have their Coke and a smile, scratch that, tax free Coke and a smile.

Sugar Tax

"Anything that is not good for you is bad, and therefor illegal."

Welcome to the future.

"1984", "Atlas Shrugged", "Anthem", "We the Living", "Demolition Man"...Same theme, it seems that what each foretold as bad has been seen as good by certain members of our government.

Tax on bad things?

I assume that since the government should tax everything that's bad for us, that we'll be hearing from Democrats soon about the need to tax pornography?

Hm...not holding my breath.

Sugar Tax

Mike said it right, THE COMMUNISTS that came up with this plan, are the same communists who came up with the cigarette tax. This is the most arrogant bunch of fools. What gives them the right to decide what I should and shouldn't eat or drink? Freedom? What Freedom?

As conservative Christian all I hear from the left-liberals is how we are always "moralizing" on everything. Well, what about the democrats- and it's usually always the Democrats who come up with these ideas, telling us how to recycle and eat right and drive the kind of cars they say we should and use 1 square of t-paper and they are so smart who needs the rest of us except to pay for it all huh?
Ever read Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell?

Sugar Tax

It's not the governments business how much anyone eats or what they eat for that matter. As for the tax, I dont believe that there is a provision in the constitution to tax people to "change behavior". The communists who came up with this idea are fools.

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