Obesity, diabetes, and heart complications are prevalent in American society. More than 30% of American adults are classified as obese (Center for Disease Control). Members of all social classes are typically guilty of eating unhealthy and processed food, because these options are marketed to be more appealing to the taste buds and less expensive than healthier alternatives. Although increasing taxes on unhealthy drinks may be seen as patronizing and invasive, this process would be beneficial by encouraging consumers to consider healthier options, helping to reduce obesity, and lowering the cost of future care for diseases linked to obesity.
In 2011, the World Health Organization reported that non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, strokes, chronic lung diseases, cancers and diabetes are the leading killers worldwide. Additionally, the report found that roughly 80% of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases share four common risk factors: tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, and poor diets. America already has laws and practices in place to limit and to an extent discourage the use of alcohol and tobacco. These restrictions protect the image and health of the public. A poor diet is similar to tobacco and alcohol because all three are common causes of fatal non-communicable diseases; taxes that are similar to those applied to tobacco and alcohol in aim but do not cause such a social impact are appropriate ways for American lawmakers to both fund government programs and stem the growth of obesity.
A decrease in the amount of soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages consumed would help promote healthier choices made by consumers. A report appearing in BMC Public Health found that a reduction in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages correlated with an increase in the price of these products (Bertram, Escobar, Hofman, Tollman, and Veerman 1072). The New York City Board of Health passed a measure reducing the portion of soft drinks in restaurants to a maximum of 16 ounces. In addition, drinks served by government agencies in New York City are restricted to milk, 100% juice, or beverages containing less than 25 calories in each cup. A 5% decrease in the consumption of soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages occurred in New York City between 2007 and 2010 (Dowell and Farley 1787-1789). The decrease in the consumption of soft drinks as well as a decrease in trans fats used by restaurants in the city have lead to the average customer purchasing about 100 fewer calories at lunch. Citizens of New York City continue to have a statistically higher and more quickly increasing life expectancy than many other Americans (Dowell and Farley 1787-1789). The positive results of the restrictions placed in New York City illustrate the impact sugar-sweetened beverages have on public health and only stress the importance of a tax on these unhealthy beverages.
About 11% of the calories consumed by children and young adults in...