Every so often we are given a piece of health news that is more of painting. A canvas that captures certain health issues over a wide population. Here is another of these interesting and very important studies. It has to do with the mass consumption of sugar, liquid sugar, and what it is doing to us.
Each year, Americans drink nearly 14 billion gallons of soda, fruit punch, sweet tea, sports drinks, and other sweetened beverages. This sugar intake is responsible for the soaring rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the United States. That, in itself, is not the news.
It is this: scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, analyzed what the effect a nationwide tax on these sugary drinks would be. If a penny-per-ounce tax was slapped on sweetened beverages, it would prevent 240,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, nearly 100,000 cases of heart disease, 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 deaths every year. For the government, it would add $13.0 billion in direct tax revenue, while saving the public an incredible $17.0 billion per year in healthcare-related expenses.
All by limiting our intake of sugary drinks by making them mildly more expensive.
Consumption of beverages high in calories but poor in nutritional value is the number one source of added sugar and excess calories in the American diet. Sugar-sweetened drinks have long been directly linked to weight gain and blood glucose issues.
The numbers are unfathomable. In 2009, Americans drank 13.8 billion gallons of sugary beverages. The average person guzzled 45 gallons — which is 70,000 worth. A typical 22-ounce drink yields 17 teaspoons of sugar.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed reducing the intake of these beverages as one of its chief ways to prevent obesity back in 2009. Several states and cities, including California and New York City, are already considering the taxes looked at by the study.
The study found that a tax on these beverages would reduce consumption by 10% to 15% over the course of a decade. They took this figure and tested it in terms of reducing the burdens of diabetes, heart disease, and their associated healthcare costs.
What we can glean from this piece of health research is that we truly must be mindful of floating sugar and floating calories. The beverage choices we make can have a tremendous impact on our health, our waistlines, and our blood.
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If you are in doubt of what drink you feel like having, why not just try water?