Soft Drink Tax

A soda tax has been proposed by David Paterson, Governor of New York State. In the idea that he is floating, soda pop would be taxed at a much higher rate: 18% sales tax. The goal is not only to raise money for the state, but also to encourage a decrease in the consumption of soda pop which is linked to obesity.

The problem is that many people underestimate how many calories are actually in a can or bottle of pop, and the calories they are drinking are not being registered by the body. This combination can quickly lead to obesity in children and adults. According to medical experts cited by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

Except for soups, liquid calories don’t register with the body, according to Professor Popkin and other specialists.

If you have a snack, even something unhealthy like potato chips, you’ll eat less at your next meal. But have a Coke, and despite all those calories, you’ll still eat just as much. Indeed, according to some studies, you’ll actually eat more.

“These findings raise the possibility that soft drinks increase hunger, decrease satiety or simply calibrate people to a high level of sweetness that generalizes to preferences in other foods,” said a peer-reviewed article last year in the American Journal of Public Health.

Few people are actually aware as to how much sugar is in that can of Coke or Sprite they drink. In Canada, simply take the number of grams of sugar as indicated in the nutrition information provided and divide by 4. This will give you the number of teaspoons of sugar.

Most cans of pop, for example, will have between 38 and 48 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce (355ml) can, which works out to roughly 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar.  A bottle given its much larger volume will of course have much more sugar. Consequently, if you drink pop daily and in large quantities, you may be consuming much of your daily calories in liquid form, calories that do not satiate your hunger and may even lead you to eat more.

The best thing, then, for both your health and your pocketbook is to stop buying and drinking soda pop, no matter how many coupons you may have. Water is free and is still the best liquid to quench your thirst.

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