On May 12, 2009, CBS News reported as follows:
"The Senate Finance Committee today is hearing proposals on how to pay for President Obama's proposed universal health care plan, which is expected to cost more than $1 trillion. Among the proposals, as Consumer Affairs reports: A three-cent tax on sodas as well as other sugary drinks, including energy and sports drinks like Gatorade. Diet sodas would be exempt.
'While many factors promote weight gain, soft drinks are the only food or beverage that has been shown to increase the risk of overweight and obesity, which, in turn, increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, and many other health problems,' Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is pushing the idea, said in his testimony. 'Soft drinks are nutritionally worthless…[and] are directly related to weight gain, partly because beverages are more conducive to weight gain than solid foods.'"
The link below to Michael Jacobson's testimony is important. He is advocating for nutritional change across the board, which in turn is proposed to help finance health care reform. In order to address the logistics of health care reform, he believes prevention is the key, and I couldn't agree with him more.
Jacobson's testimony can be read here (PDF). I highly recommend reading it. In it, he states:
"To promote health and reduce health-care costs, health-reform legislation should include strong, specific prevention measures. This testimony focuses on employing five long-neglected, high- leverage, diet-related means of preventing chronic diseases; treating serious diseases in a more economical, yet still effective, manner; and levying taxes that would both promote health and generate revenues that could help fund expanded health-care coverage."
His five proposed preventative measures include:
- Raising taxes on alcoholic beverages
- Taxing soft drinks
- Taking trans fats out of foods
- Reducing sodium in packaged foods and restaurant foods
- "Reducing medical costs through lifestyle treatment of heart disease"
"The proposed measures would generate total savings or income to the federal government
of $38 billion to $61 billion per year."
This could help generate a portion of the money needed to finance President Obama's universal health care plan.
Check out the Center for Science in the Public Interest, CSPI if you haven't already. They are a non-profit advocating for nutrition, food safety and increased consumer-awareness.
Coincidentally, I just discovered a video of Dr. Walter Willett, of Harvard's School of Public Health, stating the direct correlations between drinking sugary drinks and serious health problems like diabetes, overweight and heart disease. Hear it from the leading nutrition researcher of our time, here.
More about the taxation on soda, here in Dr. Nestle's post.