Baltimore, Maryland’s mayor is the latest politician to propose a soda tax — a projected 20% sales tax on sugary carbonated drinks. This news comes after last summer’s battle amongst Texas senators proposing the same tax, aimed to reduce the cost of health care in Texas. The Texas motion was opposed and never passed, but the sentiment is still relevant and has made news once again this month as other politicians work towards proactive health and penalties (or checks and balances) for downright unhealthy food and drinks in the U.S.
But opponents (including many, if not most, American consumers according to studies) argue that taxing soda is akin to taxing the poor and perpetuating a nanny state on nutrition. Should the government have a say in what we eat? The reality is, it already does: via both the government-created food pyramid, now replaced by My Plate, which advocates eating lots of the products of subsidized agriculture (grains, dairy), or a lax stance on labeling genetically modified foods which are in high demand by way of processed food producers.
The benefits of a soda tax include averting 2,600 deaths, 9,500 heart attacks, and 240,000 new diagnoses of diabetes every year. A soda tax is also projected to reduce soda consumption by 15 percent among adults age 25 to 64. San Antonio has a diabetes rate two times the national average. People of Hispanic heritage are especially prone to the illness, hovering near 12% of the total population in the U.S. Unfortunately those numbers are even worse for adults living in poorer neighborhoods where nearly 18% have diabetes. Those same poor neighborhoods also happen to be consumers of soda — much more than affluent areas. Whether it be causation or correlation, there is a definite connection between soda, processed foods in lower income areas, and rates of illness.
So far no taxes on soda have been passed in Texas, though rumors continue to circulate and other states have already followed through. But with an ever-growing obesity and diabetes rate, making disease-promoting foods less convenient, accessible, and cheap would surely force many consumers to purchase different foods and drink or stay away from soda entirely.
Liz Schau is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor who specializes in nutritional changes for women with thyroid disease, food allergies, autoimmunity, and digestive health concerns. You can find her at LizSchau.com.
San Antonio Current