Biggest Doctor Group in the United States May Support Soda Tax to Combat Obesity

by Dr Sam Girgis on June 22, 2012

The largest physician organization in the United States, the American Medical Association (AMA), recently met in Chicago for their annual meeting of the Council on Science and Public Health.  There were many topics on the agenda for the meeting and they included:

- Support for Imposing Taxes on Sugar-Sweetened Soft Drinks

- Public Health Concerns with Safety of Bottled Water

- Supporting Federal Legislation and/or Regulations that Require Clearly Labeling Food with Genetically Engineered Ingredients

- Light Pollution

- National Drug Shortages

- Mammography Screening

The policies that were adopted were reported on June 19, 2012.  Imposing a soda tax to combat obesity was on the agenda but, after considering the proposal, the AMA stopped short of adopting the new policy. The AMA instead stated that it was a legitimate option worthy of further consideration, discussion, and investigation.  These results come at a time when soda and sugar laden drinks have come under fire in the media and by several politicians.  The mayor of New York City recently proposed a city wide ban on all sugar heavy drinks that were of 16 ounces or greater.  The proposal by the mayor was made in an effort to combat the growing obesity epidemic in the country.  There was much opposition to the proposal, and before going into effect it will have to be discussed and ratified by city officials.  The large soda and sugar drink ban has received approval from the mayors of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, California who recently suggested that they would also be considering a citywide ban on soda and sugary drinks greater than 16 ounces.  Indeed, there is a growing obesity epidemic in the United States and throughout much of the world that has adopted our commercialized and processed diet.  In my personal opinion, I am in agreement with government intervention and solutions to the growing obesity epidemic.  We are sitting at the edge of a cliff, teetering on the verge of falling into an epidemic of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke that will be brought about by the obesity epidemic.  Something must be done.  When considering all of the industrialized countries of the world, the people of the United States of America are the most obese.  The nation’s annual health care cost due to the growing obesity epidemic is approximately $240 billion.  It is estimated that if one cent was added as tax for each can of soda consumed in the United States, the nation could generate $1.5 billion is additional revenue.  The AMA has proposed that the extra revenue from a soda tax be used for healthy diet education and obesity treatment programs.  I am in complete agreement with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 16 ounce soda ban, and the AMA’s recent consideration of a possible soda tax.  In excess, food becomes a poison and as we all known – the dose makes the poison.

 

References:

Walker, EP “Soda Tax Worth Considering, AMA Says” medpagetoday.com published June 20, 2012

AMA Adopts New Policies at Annual Meeting

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