According to pediatrics and obesity specialist Robert Lustig and health policy researchers Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis, all at the University of California at San Francisco, sugar should be identified alongside alcohol and tobacco as a health danger, and governments should tax sweetened drinks and food as part of their efforts to combat it.
So says a commentary, published on Thursday in the journal Nature as part of a widening debate among doctors and policymakers about food fiscality and health.
Around 35 million people die each year of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes and a wave of obesity is unfurling from rich countries to developing economies, say three US academics who authored the piece.
In the United States, the government is currently considering a soda tax that would raise the price of a can of fizzy drink by around 10-12 US cents, bringing in some 14 billion dollars a year of revenue.
Although I most heartily agree that the United States is addicted to sugar, I also firmly believe in self-responsibility.
I smoke. If I come down with a smoking-related illness or disease, that’s my own damn fault. I’ve been warned, I understand the risks. But it has been my choice to smoke.
However, I do NOT use salt. I do NOT eat sweets. I do NOT eat chips or junk food. On a rare occasion, perhaps once a month at most. Then I usually run to the bathroom sink to brush that nasty taste out of my mouth. I know, rather a bit of an oxymoron when compared to smoking.
My point being is that these are my choices which I, alone, decided upon. I do enjoy my soda, Coca-Cola only, but drink about one 2-litre bottle in two weeks. Since I do not consume the wide range of other sugary foods, then I do not have a problem with weight. Why should I be taxed on soda because others cannot control their cravings?
Our country is rapidly getting out of control with the concept that everyone else is responsible for my behavior and actions. Seriously. If you put hot coffee in your lap in a car and it spills, well dammit… you should not have put the coffee there to begin with! Which, btw, is another “proud” moment in New Mexico history as Stella Liebeck sues McDonalds for her own idiotic move.
Rather than a lawsuit for consuming too much sugar, let’s just tax the hell out of it so the government can profit off of America’s addiction to sugar. In fact, how about if all the soda and candy companies add even more sugar, create new sugary products, and spew more ads on TV. “Buy sugar… Buy sugar.” Better yet, just develop a new infusion pack where we can all just pop a needle into our veins and let the sugar flow! Market it as, “Save your teeth!”
What’s next? A tax on air? Will we all have to go into an air taxation office and have our breaths per minute measured and pay those taxes on a quarterly basis?
In all seriousness, it comes down to self-responsibility. The government should not tax and profit from the weaknesses of others. I understand there is a growing concern about obesity (pardon the pun), diabetes and other sugar-related illnesses , but taxation is not the answer.
Cutting sugar out of one’s diet is not the easiest thing. I used to eat candy and chips daily. Then I just kind of slowed down and eventually stopped. It was not a goal or desire, it just happened. I rather became tired of it. I no longer have any desire to eat the junk. In fact, I prefer reaching for some fruit.
Now if I can just quit the damn smoking.