Sweeten the health care pot: Tax sugar

Rex Says: “A regular 20-ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar (almost 6 TABLESPOONS) and 250 calories. The avg. American drinks 50 gallons of sugared beverages annually.” This is info from a great article from Kelly D. Brownell, Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University and David S. Ludwig, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Most Americans do not understand the amount of refined sugars that they are consuming, and the devastation it has their health.

A nationwide surcharge on syrupy beverages would provide both revenues and health benefits.

By KELLY D. BROWNELL and DAVID S. LUDWIG

The United States needs a health care sweet spot — a way to raise revenue now and to lower health care costs in the future. Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages — those with added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or so-called fruit juice concentrates — would answer that need.

There are already minor surcharges on soda in many states — fractions of a cent per ounce in most cases. That’s not enough. What’s needed is a penny per ounce of sugary beverages. That amount would raise about $150 billion nationally over the next 10 years. At the same time, the reduced consumption of soft drinks produced by a penny-per-ounce national tax would have direct health benefits, estimated to be at least $50 billion over the decade. This $200 billion could make an enormous difference in addressing the nation’s mounting health care costs.

The average American drinks 50 gallons of sugared beverages annually. The marketplace, once dominated by a few flagship beverages such as Coke and Pepsi, has exploded into a wide array of fruit drinks, sweetened teas, energy drinks, sports drinks and other versions of sugar water. But two companies still reign: Together, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo control three-quarters of the world beverage market.

Sugared beverages are marketed with fierce precision, using sports stars and other celebrities and promising benefits ranging from increased energy to better memory. Product placements in television shows, such as Coca-Cola on “American Idol,” expose vast numbers of children to hidden marketing. Portions are also an issue — the 8-ounce bottle of the 1950s has morphed into a 20-ounce behemoth.

A regular 20-ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar and 250 calories.

For full article http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentary/63806572.html?page=2&c=y

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