Today KevinMD discussed the article published online today at the New England Journal of Medicine about imposing a tax on soft drinks and sugary drinks. The massive quantity of these drinks sold in the US are definitely a health problem but as with most industry issues this attempt is doomed to fail. A massive lobby group representing the corn industry will not allow this to pass.
With government subsidies artificially increasing the production of corn there have been multiple avenues to rid ourselves of this surplus. One highly effective way the corn and food industry uses these massive amounts of corn is through the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). The amount of sugar additives and caloric sweeteners in our drinks continue to rise as HFCS is used in not only the most popular soft drinks but also fruit juices.
I think it is a good proposal that would help to curb consumption of these drinks that are leading to an epidemic of American obesity but it is up against a lot of clout and money that is entrenched in Washington (especially with a Midwest President). This type of strategy worked with the cigarette tax as our nation’s rate of smoking continues to fall from a high above 30% in the 1980’s to below 16% in 2007. The increased tax rate was well associated with this fall in cigarette consumption as shown by this graph.
For the public health’s sake I hope that we can see this same kind of decrease in soft drink consumption. From 1977 to 2001 the rate of consumption in the US has risen 135% according to researchers at UNC. Taken with the information that fructose is more taxing on our cardiovascular health we should take this as a burgeoning public health crisis.
And we’re not helping our kids in school. As I’ve written about previously, the nutrition of public school lunch and beverages is bad. We send our kids to school to learn and this is exactly what they’re learning.