Americans Against Food Taxes?: Who's Really Fighting Preventative Medicine?

Americans Against Food Taxes

It didn't take long. Shortly after several leading health researchers published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine calling for a tax on sugar sweetened beverages as a means of stemming American obesity, an immense lobbying effort to defeat the measure began in Washington and around the country. As is often the case, corporate speech is again being camouflaged as individual angst. Americans Against Food Taxes is flexing its political muscle in an effort to halt the passage of the proposed sugar sweetened beverages tax. While the group's commercials portray the tax as symptom of a runaway government unnecessarily dipping its hands into the pockets of struggling families to rob them of simple pleasures like of sipping on a soda, the crafters of this message are decidedly corporate. The membership and pocket book of Americans Against Food Taxes is dominated by Coca Cola, Pepsi-Cola, McDonald's, Domino's Pizza, Delta Airlines, and other corporations who know that any increase in the cost of sugar sweetened beverages will cut into their bottom line. And Brian wrote that the tax could actually generate a combined $10 billion per year in revenue to cash strapped states.

The coalition has already poured $24 million into lobbying efforts against the tax. The group has already spent $5 million on advertising alone, according to Huffington Post.

Are commercials like this meant to convey the pleas of hard working Americans who can't speak for themselves, or are they just disingenuous corporate speech?

A Win-Win For Consumers
In order for health care reform to be effective, it must address preventative care issues as a primary avenue for cost reduction.

According to

"The nation faces epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases as well as new threats of pandemic flu and bioterrorism. Yet despite all of this less than 4 cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health. Our health care system has become a disease care system, and the time for change is well overdue."

American soda consumption is not simply a casual pleasure sipped while camping or at the family dinner table. The average American drinks more than 50 gallons of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages each year. That level of consumption adds about 39 pounds of sugar to a person's diet.

According to Dr. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, "[t]he science [is] clear and conclusive: soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are leading contributors to the nation's runaway obesity epidemic."

Sugar-sweetened beverages account for 10 to 15 percent of the calories consumed by children and adolescents, according to an April 2009 report in the New England Journal of Medicine written in Huffington Post. One way of combating this self-inflicted epidemic that will continue to weigh down the cost of health care is by creating a disincentive to unhealthy behavior that can also help fund remedial care with a soda tax.

Soda Taxing the Planet?
Soda ain't what it used to be. The soda fountains of yore have long been replaced by mega-corporations that mass produce gluttonous batches of corn syrup and artificial flavorings. Natural flavoring and actual sugar have long been replaced by a cheap derivative, corn syrup. It's one of the laundry list of artificial ingredients that adorn the sides of the soft drink industry's endless cascade of aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

High fructose corn syrup comes from corn that is grown as a monoculture. I've written before that monocultures are often dressed with a toxic cocktail of pesticides so that the homogenous grain can survive in evolving circumstances. Monocultures can also deplete the nutrients in soil and lead to erosion. In addition, these massive corporations consume a tremendous amount of energy in processing the sugary paste that keeps America on an unnatural sugar high.

More on the Soda and High Fructose Corn Syrup:
High Fructose Corn Syrup Producers on a Roll
Don't Eat High Fructose Corn Syrup? You're Both Snobby and a Racist
You Know What They Say about Corn Syrup...that It has Mercury in it.

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