Sugar and Spice Advice on the Junk Food Debate

In the mail today I received a blank petition requesting my signature and asking me to get others to sign it put a measure on the California ballot that would ask for an additional $2 a pack tax on cigarettes. If passed, the extra money would go to health care. Well, you may not have known that in some states a measure to tax “obesity-inducing items” like sugary sodas and other junk foods has already been passed. In other states the measure is being considered. So what side of the measure are you on?

I came across some pros and cons that you may be considering.

Pros – Paired with education programs the tax on cigarettes has helped the smoking rate gradually decline. In Sept. of 2010 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that for the past 5 years the smoking rate of Americans has been at 20%. In 2002 the rate was 23%. Pro junk food tax people feel that the tax could aid a similar decline in obesity.

Cons – Junk food is usually not very expensive so adding a tax to the cost may not be enough to keep people from buying it. The cause and effect issue between cigarette smoking and lung cancer is clearer than the cause and effect of junk food and overweight. And how will it be decided which food should be taxed and which ones not? I am glad I don’t have to make that decision!

I do want to share some information on soft drinks. Did you know that they drain your body of essential nutrients? Most soda pops contain phosphoric acid and caffeine, which can deplete your body’s calcium and natural fluids. And many people drink sodas in place of things the body needs, like water, milk, and juices. Non-diet sodas contain 150 calories and 40 grams of sugar (yowsa!) in an average 12-ounce can. With frequent consumption a person will tack on extra pounds and could become susceptible to other health problems.

Studies has shown that high soda consumption, including diet soda, are linked to people developing “metabolic syndrome.” What is that you ask? Metabolic syndrome increases a person’s risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. None of those are things a person needs. Another study has shown that drinking soda pop can contribute to osteoporosis, dental caries, kidney problems, and even cancer.

Here are some healthier drinks: water. Water is the most important hydration item. Bored with plain old water, squeeze a little lemon into the water. Get a water diffuser and put in some berries it which will seep their flavor into the water.

Fruit spritzers: if you are looking for some fizzy carbonation, try 100% fruit juice with some club soda.

The most important thing that people need to remember is that each individual needs to take responsibility for what she/he eats, just as in everything else in life.

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