While the American Medical Association isn’t going so far as to say we should institute a tax on sugary sodas so as to combat the obesity crisis, it did recommend that any such taxes should be used for fighting the healthy fight in America.
The nation’s largest physician organization met today for its House of Delegates get together in Chicago, where two recommendations to commit support to soda taxes failed to pass. But the group did note that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is strongly and consistently linked with increased body weight and health conditions like type 2 diabetes.
“While there is no silver bullet that will alone reverse the meteoric rise of obesity, there are many things we can do to fight this epidemic and improve the health of our nation,” AMA board member Dr. Alexander Ding said in a statement.
Cutting out sugary drinks, which make up almost half of Americans’ added sugar intake would greatly reduce empty calories, says the AMA, while also recognizing that obesity is caused by many factors. Using taxes levied against sodas could be used to help fund education campaigns and other obesity-related programs.
Increasing taxes on sweetened beverages to a penny per ounce would reduce obesity rates by 5 percent and cut medical costs by $17 billion within a decade, the AMA Council on Science and Public Health said in its report.
Even more benefit could come if the proceeds of these taxes were used to support obesity education efforts, the group said.
The American Beverage Association didn’t like that so much, responding in a statement that “funding anti-obesity programs through discriminatory taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages is misguided.”
After New York City announced a plan to consider a limit on soda serving sizes, other cities have been formulating their own anti-soda campaigns. Companies like Coca-Cola have said the nation should trust consumers to make their own decisions regarding drinking sodas, and that the drinks can’t be blamed for the current obesity epidemic.