Doctors vote against fat tax on soft drinks in Chicago

Doctors vote against fat tax

Published: Monday 31 July 2006

Doctors voted against the imposition of a fat tax on soft drinks at the annual meet of the American Medical Association (AMA) held from June 10-14 in Chicago. In May, AMA had proposed to levy such a tax all over the country as against that in 17 states. AMA's proposal came after a recommendation by the American College of Preventive Medicine.

Soft drinks are "devoid of nutritional value and do not make any positive contribution to people's diets or health", says an AMA report. They have high levels of fructose corn syrup with a 360-millilitre can of Pepsi containing 150 calories of sugar or high fructose corn syrup equivalent to 10 teaspoons of sugar. Thus, these 'empty calories' contribute to obesity in a large number of people.

Another reason behind the deision was to ensure that the revenue earned from the tax was used for nutrition promotion and obesity prevention efforts since the states that did levy such a tax had so far failed to use the money judiciously. In most states, this revenue goes into the state's general revenue fund so very little of it gets used for health initiatives.

At the meet, doctors said taxing soft drinks to fund obesity prevention and treatment programmes was an idea that needed to be studied further. They felt the tax would not end obesity; rather people's sedentary lifestyles needed to be changed through awareness.

-- vibha varshney

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