Friday, October 30, 2009
Americans eat (and drink -- in the form of sodas) way too much sugar: refined & high fructose corn syrup is showing up more and more in processed foods from breakfast cereals to salad dressings. In small quantities, these may be harmless, but the trend in our increasing unhealthiness among Western nations is alarming.
Obviously, just as it's not healthy for us to eat loads of fats, we should not consume all this sugar that's hiding in much of our food, and it contributes heavily (pun intended) to childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc. I wrote about this on a previous reflection post, entitled Diet is a Four-letter Word.
Recently, I got to thinking about something I heard on the radio one morning while barely awake when the alarm came on: a proposed tax on sugar in drinks, a penny per ounce on sugary drinks. Is that a good idea???
It would make us more aware of how much sugar we're consuming.
Some people would indeed change their habits.
The pinch in the pocketbook is not a hardship to the extend that sugary sodas are not nutrition we need: they're not "food" we need to sustain us (in other words, real food is not being taxed).
The money collected in taxes could be used for a good cause (education about dangers of childhood obesity, for example).
Diet drinks are not necessarily any healthier. Maybe they should be taxed too?!? For more info, here's more about the link between diet sodas, weight gain and diabetes.
Taxation for behavior modification is controversial -- would it really change behavior, or would people just start getting used to it after the initial "shock", and keep up the unhealthy habits..?
Would "natural fruit juice" start replacing refined sugar in most drinks, allowing manufacturers to charge a higher price, yet without significantly affecting the desired outcome, i.e. people still end up just as overweight on fructose as they do on sucrose...
Would the government end up being a "sugar police"? Is sugar the last legal drug...?
Hey, we're evolutionarily programmed to like sugar: we all know our early human ancestors had a better chance of surviving (and escaping the sabertooth tiger) if they found foods high in calories. But that's not the situation we're in, now is it?
I admit that I love dessert as much as the next person -- but I believe it should remain a special treat, rather than an abused substance!