Will Sugar Drinks Eventually be Taxed?

I read an article in this Sunday’s Tribune entitled, Many are no longer sweet on soft drinks. I was intrigued by the title, but mostly its byline: Communities, hospitals and others coast to coast are considering bans or taxes to curb consumption and combat obesity.

That’s a bold move considering every American consumes roughly 150 pounds of sugar a year (according to Dr. Oz).  The article mainly talks about adding taxes to sodas or banning sugary drinks from vending machines in hospitals, parks, and libraries. New York City is even talking about banning super-sized drinks from restaurants, movie theaters, and sporting events.

This got me thinking: Shouldn’t schools also be included in this “push”? If some hospitals in Chicago can replace energy drinks and sodas with bottled water, why can’t we do that in our public schools? Don’t these soda companies make bottled water too? I know that schools get some kickback for having vending machines in their buildings.  But why can’t these machines be filled with water and low-sugar juices?

If this idea is bogus, what about educating parents and children as to how much sugar they are drinking? Some hospitals in Boston are putting nutrition labels on the fountain drinks that show how much sugar is about to be consumed.  When I taught a one-week unit on nutrition (in one of my business classes) my favorite website to show my students was Sugar Stacks. This site gives you a visual as to how much sugar you are consuming for popular foods (cookies, soda, veggies, etc.).

I found it interesting that other popular drinks weren’t mentioned in the article. Mainly: Major coffee brand’s iced coffees and “milkshakes”.  How hard would these companies be hit if there was a ban or tax on its delicious creations?

How do you feel about banning or taxing sugary drinks? Is it so bad that lawmakers have to get involved? Do we need better nutrition education at the primary level?   

 Image from: New Public Health

14 thoughts on “Will Sugar Drinks Eventually be Taxed?

  1. Hi Patty. Great post. This weekend my sister asked if Avery (9 months) could have some Snapple Iced tea. I said ‘NOOO!’ Then proceeded to educate her on how much sugar was in it and how it had no nutritional value for Avery. He has a couple ounces of juice a day, which is great because we’ll be switching him off formula in 3 months. But people really don’t think about how harmful some drinks are. I don’t know if adding labels or taxes will change people’s drinking habits. As an adult, we know if we’re health concious and can make decisions on what we drink and eat based on that.. .but kids don’t know any better. They should be offered more healthy options and educated on them at a primary level for sure!

    • Thanks for your post. You are right, kids really don’t know any better.

      I had a similar experience with Oster where he gets his hair cut. He really didn’t want to be there and hated being in the chair. Before the hair stylist started cutting his hair, she asked if she could give him a sucker to calm him down. What?!?

      • a sucker?!? Oh dear. Good thing she at least asked. Some people don’t ask and just give kids (not their own) food/drinks.

  2. Seriously? I can see them banning them from school vending machines – but as a school district decision. Everything has nutrition labels. People know what they are consuming. If someone want to smoke themselves to death or put themselves in a sugar coma they should be entitled to do so in this “free” country we live in. They taxed and taxed cigarettes and people who can’t really afford them are still buying the $9 packs. Sorry, this just really irks me.

  3. Does the U.S not have a federal law on labels? Canada does, not that it helps with vending machines, or educates the masses, but it does help. Most people don’t know how addictive sugar really is. We watch people fill their shopping baskets with all white (white flour, white sugar, and all preservatives), which just shows how little is known about nutrition, plus P.E is being taken out of schools, as well as reduced breaks, which has aided obesity. In many ways, taxing wouldn’t tackle the whole issue.

    • Yes, the US requires all food/drinks to have labels on them. Although soda fountain stations do not fall into these categories. Our “better than fast food” restaurants are also supposed to have their nutritional labels available for you to see at the register (or displayed), but when I’ve asked to see them in the past they tell me to go to their webpage.

      It’s hard for me to see people’s shopping carts filled with the sodas and white starches. I know these items are cheaper and I wish we, as consumers, would take a stand and not settle for these kinds of foods/drinks. I know that’s wishful thinking and quite impossible.

      Yes, PE is being cut everywhere in the US! What?! Our healthcare has been a topic for decades. How about educate the young (and their parents), provide foods that are healthy for all to purchase, and eliminate food deserts across the country. Keep PE and teach nutrition in the class. There’s got to be a creative way to allow this class to run. Nutrition Literacy (I don’t think this term exists) is just as important as reading, financial, and numerical literacy. Thanks so much for your post.

  4. I have to agree with you. Sugary drinks should be a no no in school’s vending machines. Even kids are getting it at home, it should be off limits at least in school.

    Considering what we know now about sugar and the many obesity cases especially in children, more should be done to curb these drink…if nothing replace them with low sugar drinks. Healthier options.

    I have always thought those coffee based drinks are the worst…one might as well down a bag of sugar. This is a great post!!!

    • Thanks, Boomie! Those coffee drinks are so bad…I was a culprit of purchasing them when I worked in the city. From Union Station to the college where I taught there were 8 Starbucks along the way. I was so proud of myself as I passed each one, but when I knew there was only one left before the entryway to my building…I always caved!

      Now, if I happen to be at a fancy-shmancy coffee establishment, I order an espresso.

  5. People should be able to make their own decisions on what they want to consume. However, these vending machines should not be in schools!

    • Thanks for you post, Fen! I definitely agree it’s up to the consumers to decide what they want to purchase. And, yes, sugary drinks shouldn’t be an option in schools.

  6. Pingback: What’s your favorite age for kids? | sleeping should be easy

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