The Obesity Tax Proposal -- A Good Idea Or a Waste of Time?

You can skip this video in  seconds
Skip Ad

Visit the Mercola Video Library

A proposal on the table to help balance the New York state budget is an “obesity tax”, which would place an 18 percent sales tax on non-diet soda and other sweetened drinks with less than 70 percent fruit juice.

New York Governor Paterson said the tax would help raise $400 million, and State Health Commissioner Richard Daines made the YouTube video above explaining why he thinks it's a good idea. He points out how the obesity rate has increased as more people drink soda instead of milk.

Assemblyman Ron Canestrari, however, is opposed to the obesity tax. He argues that there are better ways to fight obesity and better ways to raise money for the cash strapped state.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It has long been my belief that one of the simplest and easiest steps the typical person can make to start taking control of their health is to replace ALL their fluid intake to pure water.  If everyone were to take this one simple step there would be an explosion of health, and a dramatic drop in nearly all diseases. 

Raising the price of sugar-laden drinks and sodas so they’re not cheaper than a bottle of plain water is likely a very good strategy overall. But whether or not it will have the intended outcome of actually lowering obesity rates, who knows? And whether the tax money raised will actually be used for effective health-promoting programs also remains to be seen. 

What is sure, however, is that soda greatly contributes to our ever-rising obesity rates, and is a major detriment to overall health.  

However, one important issue that is being overlooked is that of diet soda and other artificially sweetened drinks, which are not slated for additional taxes. I will go over the potential ramifications of this decision in just a moment. 

How Soda and Sugary Drinks Contribute to the Obesity Epidemic 

As of 2005, white bread was dethroned as the number one source of calories in the American diet, being replaced by soft drinks. During the past half-century, the number of carbonated soft-drink drinkers rose more than 450 percent and jumped from 11 gallons in 1946 to 49 gallons in the year 2000. Currently, the average American drinks more than 60 gallons of soft drinks each year. During this time, obesity rates have skyrocketed.  

One independent, peer-reviewed study published in the British medical journal The Lancet demonstrated a strong link between soda consumption and childhood obesity. They found that 12-year-olds who drank soft drinks regularly were more likely to be overweight than those who didn't.

In fact, for each additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink consumed during the nearly two-year study, the risk of obesity jumped by 60 percent. Just one extra can of soda per day can add as much as 15 pounds to your weight over the course of a single year!

At that rate, it’s no wonder more than 65 percent of all American adults struggle with overweight and obesity.

How Soda Affects Your Body

First of all, just one can of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. This is 100 percent of your recommended daily intake (which is more than double my recommended daily allowance to begin with). Within 20 minutes of drinking that soda, your blood sugar spikes, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat. 

Within 40 minutes, your blood pressure rises due to your body having absorbed all the caffeine, and then your livers dumps even more sugar into your bloodstream.  

After about one hour, you’ll start to have a sugar crash, which oftentimes leads you into a vicious cycle  of consuming more stimulants, followed by crashes, throughout your day.

It is also a proven fact that sugar increases your insulin levels, which can lead to not only weight gain, but also high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, premature aging and many more negative side effects. In fact, sugar is so bad for your health in so many ways, I even created an entire list outlining 100-Plus Ways in Which Sugar Can Damage Your Health.

Soda drinkers also have higher cancer risk, and soda has even been shown to cause DNA damage – courtesy of sodium benzoate, a common preservative found in many soft drinks, which has the ability to switch off vital parts of your DNA. This could eventually lead to diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson's.

So needless to say, anything that will curb the excessive consumption of soda can be a good move – as long as consumers aren’t willing to simply shell out more money for their daily soda fix…

Buyer Beware – Some Alternatives are Even More Dangerous Than Regular Soda! 

I must remind you, however, that although diet sodas are not included in this proposed tax, diet sodas are actually even WORSE for your health than the sugar-laden ones!

For many years I didn’t know what was worse -- regular soda, with its sugar and high fructose corn syrup, or diet soda with its artificial sweeteners.  Now, after doing years of hard research and writing Sweet Deception, I am absolutely convinced that diet sodas are FAR more harmful.

Not only do they cause the same insulin dysfunctions, but they also have additional inherent toxicities that are not present in natural products like sugar. In an analysis of 166 articles about aspartame published in medical journals, 91 percent of the independent studies -- 84 out of a total of 92 -- found at least one adverse health effect in its outcome. 

Early safety studies of aspartame identified potential neurotoxic side effects. In one study, out of seven monkeys fed aspartame mixed with milk, one monkey died and five of the remaining had grand mal seizures. Other studies have shown that aspartic acid, one of the main ingredients in aspartame, causes damage to the brains of infant mice.

My sincere hope here is that, if this taxing proposal goes through, we don’t end up with an increase in diet soda consumption, because the public health ramifications of that could be far worse than what we’re currently dealing with.

Not only are most artificial sweeteners toxic to your system, but they also raise your risk of obesity even more than regular soda! Nearly a decade ago, studies were already revealing that artificial sweeteners can:

  • Stimulate your appetite
  • Increase carbohydrate cravings
  • Stimulate fat storage and weight gain

What’s the Healthiest Replacement for Soda?

Nothing beats pure water when it comes to serving your body’s needs, and cutting soda out of your diet is one of the easiest ways to improve your health and weight. It is one of the most crucial factors to deal with many of the health problems you or your children suffer.

If you really feel the urge for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice.

Keep in mind, however, that bottled water is not an assurance of purity. In fact, about 40 percent of bottled water is regular tap water, which may or may not have received any additional treatment.

And, most municipal tap water -- though generally far from pure -- must actually adhere to stricter purity standards than the bottled water industry. In one study, a third of more than 100 bottled water brands tested for contaminants were found to contain chemicals like arsenic and carcinogenic compounds, at levels exceeding state or industry standards.

Your best bet is simply to filter your own water at home using a reverse osmosis filter.

Avoid drinking unfiltered tap water, as chlorine and fluoride (which are added to most municipal water supplies) are toxic chemicals that should not be consumed in large quantities.

How to Counteract Withdrawal Symptoms

If you struggle with an addiction to soda, (remember, sugar is actually more addictive than cocaine!) I strongly recommend you consider Turbo Tapping as a simple yet highly effective tool to help you stop this health-sucking habit. Turbo Tapping is a simple and clever use of the Emotional Freedom Technique, designed to resolve many aspects of an issue in a concentrated period of time.

+ Sources and References