Seeking Liberty

Liberty is the Fruit from Which All Progress Grows

The New Cola Wars

Cola in a glass. Linked from freephoto.comI drink a lot of soda.

I mean, a lot of soda.  In fact, the only beverages I seem to drink any more are Coke products, coffee and tea.  I drink at least one glass of water every day, but most of what I drink is some form of manufactured beverage.

According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, I should have to pay a great deal more for what I drink.  Last night, I bought two 2-liter bottles of Coke products.  They cost me about $3.  If we were to adopt the 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages recommendation of the NEJM, I would have to pay another $1.38 for those 2-liters.  The argument they make is that, like cigarette taxes, the tax on sugary beverages would reduce consumption and improve America’s overall health.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The paper, by seven experts in nutrition, public health and economics, called for an excise tax of a penny per ounce on caloric soft drinks and other beverages that contain added sweeteners such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup or fruit-juice concentrates. Such a tax could reduce calorie consumption from sweetened beverages by at least 10% and generate revenue that governments could use to fund health programs, the authors said.

“The science base linking the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to the risk of chronic diseases is clear,” the authors wrote. “Escalating health-care costs, and the rising burden of diseases related to poor diet, create an urgent need for solutions, thus justifying government’s right to recoup costs.”

There’s just one problem:  Caloric intake is not the sole measure of “poor diet,” nor is poor diet the sole reason for poor health.  Lack of physical activity, other habits like smoking, drinking, drug abuse, chronic dehydration, lack of minimal sun exposure (for Vitamin D) and others also have a cumulative lifetime effect on people’s health.  Simply cutting people’s intake of sugary beverages will not, on its own, solve the obesity problem in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

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