For many years now physicians’ groups have warned against the high consumption of sugary drinks in the US for everyone and for all ages, but now they are banding together for government intervention through policies that would focus on children and teens to limit their access to sugar-sweetened beverages.
This includes sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit flavored drinks, or juices that children or teens would have access to.
Two Physicians organizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have come together to recommend policies to Federal, state and local lawmakers to help in the reduction of children’s drinking sugary beverages.
Their policy recommendations to tax sugary drinks is the first time the AAP in particular has come out to make a stand on this issue.
Natalie Muth, a practicing pediatrician and registered dietitian in Carlsbad, California, who was the lead author of the policy statement, published in the journal Pediatrics, says that while she talks to patients and their families about the health threats from excessive sugary drink intake and recommends milk and or water in its place the fact that sugary drinks are cheap, easy to get, heavily marketed and of course tastes sweet makes it hard for people and especially kids to forego making the changes.
Muth’s concern along with the majority of members of both physicians groups is that more and more physicians are diagnosing type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and high cholesterol in their young patients. These diseases she says were rarely seen in the past but are now prevalent in our society and are associated with high sugar intake.
The two physicians associations compare the necessity of high taxes on sugary drinks to that of alcohol and cigarettes. Of the half dozen regulatory recommendations, the excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would have the most impact as has been shown over the years to have on the reduction of consumption and use of alcohol and cigarettes.
Recent examples also have shown that increase in price leads to a decrease in consumption, such as in the cities of Mexico and Berkeley, California where the sugary tax is already in place and purchases and consumption have decreased.
The American Beverage Association, which represents the non-alcoholic beverage industry, responded to the recommended policy statement and believes the responsibility should remain in the hands of the parents to decide what’s best for their children and that beverages that children drink are not the main reason that obesity rates have been rising in the US. Their stand is based on their statistics that while obesity rate are rising, soda sales and consumption rates have been declining.
The policy statement follows a separate study that was recently published by the journal Circulation which showed the association between premature deaths in adults and their high consumption of sugary drinks over a long period of time.