Thursday, April 12, 2012

Should the US tax soda?

Should US impose tax on soda?

For the first time in history, chronic diseases often brought on by poor personal health choices account for more deaths than communicable ones. We smoke, drink, and eat our way into poor health and then try to deal with the chaos after the fact. As a result, America spends billions of dollars on healthcare every year and children are developing 'adult diseases' like type 2 diabetes and hypertension in their grade school days. 
By taxing sugar sweetened beverages, we could save billions in health care costs and help reduce the climbing obesity rate. Much like the tax imposed on tobacco in the 1990s we've seen that taxing unhealthful items, making them more expensive to the consumer, can have a positive impact by encouraging people to steer clear of them. By taxing sodas just one penny per ounce, consumption should drop, along with incidence of disease and public health costs, while the money raised could be put to good use. The potential revenue from such a tax could help make healthier foods more affordable and help pay for other health
promotion and disease prevention programs and initiatives.
The processed (aka junk) food industry is obviously against such a tax, citing reasons like job loss and the right of the public to consume whatever they like. Beverage industries claim that a tax would not decrease consumption of these types of drinks nor would it have impact on our nation's obesity rate. The beverage industry is quick to point the finger at other sources of calories and sugar in our diets as blame for our nations current health crisis. Low income people having to pay more for soda or junk food may also see this tax as a bad idea, when they already struggle to buy cheap (nutritionally and in dollars and cents) foods. 
The tax on sugar sweetened drinks is another step in the right direction for a healthier future for America. When public health is the responsibility of the government they have the obligation to take steps such as these. This simple step seems to me to be a win-win situation. Consumption of a product that harms our health goes down, the money gained by this tax goes up helping to make healthier foods cheaper by subsidizing them. Just as with smoking, those who really want to drink soda everyday will continue to despite the higher price at checkout. It's those who decide to not buy pop for their children because of cost or bring a water bottle with their lunch instead that will benefit. Just this discussion will get some thinking about why is this a hot topic? What is soda doing to my health? Any small step with such great benefits cannot be ignored. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reducing Hidden Salt - Step toward a healthier America?

I received this assignment in my Community Nutrition class this quarter (my LAST quarter!!!) at Ohio State. Since Americans overconsume salt daily (along with just about everything else...) I thought I'd share! Plus it's been way too long since I've blogged! Sorry readers! Make sure to keep up with me on Facebook - I'm much more reliable on there! :)

This is short & sweet & to the point. One paragraph introduces, we get the 'for it' side, the 'against it' side, and my own opinion! Feel free to share yours!

Cut Sodium Content 25% by 2020

The Institute of Medicine is calling for the Food and Drug Administration to reduce the amount of salt in commercially prepared foods, which are typically loaded with sodium. The purpose of this recommendation is to help cut back the amount of sodium the average American is consuming and in return lower occurrence of cardiovascular disease and other health risks that plague our nation thanks to our over-consumptive diets.

The Institute of Medicine suggests that this proposal could save 100,000 lives a year just by lowering sodium in foods commercially prepared in a way that consumers probably won’t even taste. The average American is over-consuming sodium by 50% daily, about 3,400mg of sodium compared to the recommendation of 2,300mg from the federal Dietary Guidelines. This is double the 1,500mg recommendation for older people, people with high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes, or kidney issues by the American Heart Association. The majority of this consumption is coming from foods that already have the salt added, fewer than 25% of the average daily intake coming from the salt we add to our food at home. Companies have already been doing this voluntarily without seeing a decrease in sales, suggesting that consumers taste no difference in the product. The FDA’s involvement in making this a dietary guideline has become necessary because the food industry now adds more salt than ever to prepared foods. This gradual decrease would help the health of our nation without a second thought to the consumer.

The Salt Institute has taken a strong stance against the proposed sodium restriction as expected. They ask that legislation be halted or reversed in order to protect the health of Americans. President Lori Roman says that this could be Americans at risk for the dangers of a low-salt diet and that this violates the medical mandate to ‘first, do no harm.’ They stand opposed to 300 million Americans being treated as “lab rats in a risky trial”.
In my opinion, reducing the amount of sodium in commercially prepared foods is an excellent way to help Americans take a step toward a healthier future. Learning the risks associated with the diets typically consumed by the American people has really opened my eyes to how much our diets are to blame for the skyrocketing numbers of those plagued by health problems that they ate their way into. This is not a change that any one person will have to actually make on their own and one that will probably go unnoticed by our taste buds. The idea that this legislation would put people at risk for consuming too little sodium is absurd; the Salt Institute is simply trying to protect their profits while American people continue to eat themselves into disease, costly medical bills, and early deaths.