Stories about: soda tax

Seatbelts and bans on big sodas: laws that save lives

I’m sad that a New York judge struck down the 16-ounce size limit for sodas and some other sweet drinks.  I think Mayor Bloomberg had the right idea.

I get that whole personal freedom argument (although the court just said that it was arbitrary and out of Bloomberg’s purview), that this was a “Nanny State” idea. But honestly, when it comes to obesity, we may need nannies to save ourselves—from ourselves.

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Soda’s tax-free status: right or oversight?

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg isn’t sugarcoating his views on soda. Citing sugary drinks as a leading cause of obesity, Bloomberg is pushing for legislation that would ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts in the Big Apple.

Under Bloomberg’s proposed law, any sugary drink larger than 16 fluid ounces—smaller than many single serving soda bottles—would be banned at any establishment regulated by New York’s health department. Grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines wouldn’t be affected.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are proposing new legislation regulating sugary drinks as well, though less drastic than their peers in New York. Currently, food products in Massachusetts are exempt from the state’s standard 6.25 percent sales tax. Governor Deval Patrick is suggesting that soda and candy no longer be exempt from that tax, and the additional money raised—estimated at $51 million each year—go towards new and existing health programs to help combat obesity. Representative Kay Khan (D-Newton), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children and Families, is also proposing a similar legislation.

“The proposal is in the public’s best interest,” says David Ludwig, MD, PhD, who has led the way in researching the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity at the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital. “It will reduce exposure to unhealthy food products while raising much-needed funds for obesity prevention and other necessary public measures.”

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This week on Thrive: June 21- 25

This week on Thrive:

Is Lady Gaga too much for kids? Michael Rich, MD, MPH, is Children’s media expert. This week he talks about music videos’ influence on kids, specifically Lady Gaga. With catchy choruses and an infectious sound, her music is widely popular, even with younger children, but the thinly-veiled sexuality in her lyrics and videos has some parents concerned.

Working parents, please join the discussion! Claire McCarthy, MD, wrote a Thrive post defending working mothers, in response to a study from the UK linking busy schedules to increased rates of childhood obesity. The post generated a lot of discussion and several readers chimed in with some great advice for raising healthy kids while working full-time. What do you think? Here’s one reader’s reaction:

“Thanks Claire for your well-thought out, well-articulated comments. As a FT working Mom, I agree that there are so many factors that can contribute to our children’s health (or lack of). It’s easier to take one correlation and create a scapegoat rather than take a look at all of the contributors. The societal contributions, especially, often seem too daunting or even impossible to change, so we focus on the scapegoats. We all need to take the appropriate amount of responsibility (no more for those already swimming in Mommy guilt and no less for government officials who don’t provide enough funding for all schools to have healthy options and plenty of exercise) and each do our part.” -Michele

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Harvard research shows soda tax might work

Bottles of soda with strawThe debate over whether or not a tax on soda and other sugary drinks would actually discourage people from drinking them has been going on for some time. People who support the idea often point to alcohol and tobacco taxes as examples of how price increases for health-harming products can reduce their use. Anti-soda taxers say that comparing soda to things as harmful as booze or cigarettes is inaccurate, and question whether a soda tax would unfairly target specific populations.

But amidst the points and counterpoints, name-calling and finger-wagging, researchers at Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care conducted a real-life study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to see if a soda tax would help reduce soda consumption. And as it turns out, it did.

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