Health experts push for soda tax?

NEW YORK In an article in the /*New England Journal of Medicine*/, the New York City Health Commissioner makes the case for taxing sugared drinks.

Several states are considering such taxes as a way to tackle the growing obesity problem in America.

"There are many contributors to the obesity problem, but if you look at scientific studies, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages would be at or near the top of the list," said Kelly Brownell, Director, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at /*Yale University*/.

Experts compare this idea to the cigarette tax, saying higher prices have helped to curb smoking rates.

"A one-penny-per-ounce tax on sugared beverages could lead to about a 10-percent reduction in consumption, which could be a public health home run," Brownell said.

But the beverage industry disagrees, saying a tax would cost jobs and would fail to solve the problem.

"Soft drinks don't play any role in the obesity epidemic. Soft drinks are just a fun beverage along with a lot of other beverages and foods that we like to eat or drink. It's eating too much of something that is a problem," said Susan Neely, /*American Beverage Association*/.

Some proponents suggest proceeds from a tax could be used to make sure more water is available as an alternate choice, especially for children.

A recent effort to tax sugared drinks in New York, raising more than $1 billion in revenue, was taken off the table after fierce lobbying from the beverage industry.


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