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Soda tax can lower obesity rates

Published: Monday, November 4, 2013

Updated: Monday, November 4, 2013 02:11

 

Two out of three adults and one out of three children in the U.S. are overweight or obese, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. There are many variables to blame for the high rate of obesity in the U.S., but there is no reason not to look into ways to prevent it. 

The U.K. has recently considered putting a 20 percent tax on soda because a new study expects it to cut the number of obese adults by 180,000,
according to an Associated Press article. This may even be a good idea for the U.S. to adopt, considering the country’s obesity rates.

According to the Harvard
School of Public Health, a 20-year study on 120,000 people found that those who increased their sugary drink intake by one 12-ounce serving per day, gained an average of one extra pound every four years, compared to those that did not change their intake of sugary drinks. Another study showed that men who
averaged one can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack than men who rarely consumed sugary drinks.

Soda isn’t the only culprit in the U.S. causing obesity, but it’s a good place to start. Considering the median household income is about $53,000, according to the 2012 Census, it is not surprising that families are looking for cheaper resources for food. Unfortunately, what is cheaper is typically less healthy, such as fast food and soda. 

If soda were taxed, like it will potentially be in the U.K., it would turn millions of Americans away from it. Americans would likely turn to a cheaper and healthier alternative — such as tap water. On average, tap water costs about 20 cents per 100 gallons,
according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  

Soda may sound like just a sweet drink, but many people turn a blind eye to the 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of soda. It’s like liquid candy, and results in consuming empty calories that don’t provide the full feeling of solid food. 

It’s not surprising so many people drink soda; it’s tasty,
convenient and everywhere, but it’s also slyly contributing to a serious health issue across the country. By taxing soda, it would no longer become the easy and cheap solution to thirst. 

While it may seem that
taxing soda will put large soda brands out of business, it is actually very unlikely because brands like Pepsi and Coca-Cola already have healthier options, such as Pepsi-Co’s Naked Juice or Tropicana’s Farmstand juices that could replace the unhealthy soda options in the vending machines.    

In the same way that rising gas prices have caused people to cut back on driving and look for
alternative means of transportation, taxing soda will cause Americans to cut back on how much they drink and look for alternative beverages. 

While putting an added tax on one of America’s
favorite drinks may cause some
disgruntled responses, it is important to realize the long-term potential of decreasing obesity rates across the U.S.  

 

Ali Leist is a junior majoring in mass communications.

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