Ana Ibarra Health

August 4, 2014

To tax or not to tax: sugary drinks

Last week, 12-term Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax (SWEET) Act, in an effort to combat the increasing prevalence of diabetes and obesity among adults and children. The Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code and charge a penny per teaspoon of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or other caloric sweeteners-- to be paid by manufacturers, producers or importers of these products.

Last week, 12-term Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax (SWEET) Act, in an effort to combat the increasing prevalence of diabetes and obesity among adults and children. The Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code and charge a penny per teaspoon of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or other caloric sweeteners-- to be paid by manufacturers, producers or importers of these products.

Beverage products exempted from the proposed tax include, milk, 100 percent fruit juice, oral nutritional therapy products (such as Pedialyte), infant formula and alcoholic beverages.

The tax revenue would fund research, prevention, and the treatment of diseases related to consumption of sweetened beverages.

Currently, the cities of San Francisco and Berkeley, have a soda and beverage tax in question for the November election. A national beverage tax, however, will probably be less likely to go forward.

In 2012, the city of El Monte in Los Angeles County proposed a similar tax. The measure was defeated by a landslide, and not surprisingly. People love their soda. And even if the taxes applied to producers or to businesses, people know the costs will eventually affect their pockets. I grew up near El Monte, and know that the town, similar to Merced and many other towns in the U.S., struggles with a high rate of obesity and diabetes.

According to the California Department of Public Health, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages promotes excess calorie intake with little to no nutritional value.

It is estimated that adults who drink one or more sugar-sweetened beverage such as soda per day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who drink less.

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