back to article Profs call for harsh taxes on sweet carbonated beverages

Medical scientists in San Francisco have sent a chill wind blowing through the IT industry as they issue a call for swingeing taxes on "soda, fruit punch, sweet tea, sports drinks, and other sweetened beverages". A collection of health profs and other researchers led by Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo (associate professor of medicine …

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  1. Peter Gordon

    Official reg units please

    We want that in Olympic swimming pools!

    1. Jedit
      Boffin

      It's already in official Reg units

      There just comes a point where measuring in Olympic swimming pools becomes unwieldy, and one is forced to measure in Suez canals instead. This point has now been reached.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE: It's already in official Reg units

        This is the Americans we're talking about here, it should be measured in Atlantic Oceans!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You might have heard of Napa Valley? Or Starbucks?

    El Reg needs to come up for air occasionally. We have beer, wine, coffee, and tea too. But you knew that.

    That said, those SF boffins need to pull their heads out too. The epidemic we have is too much High Fructose Corn Syrup in our soft drinks. They need to tax that stuff so that it's more expensive than cane sugar. When all our soft drinks were sweetened with real sugar we didn't have this 'epidemic'.

    Me? I go out of my way to buy soft drinks with real sugar, and I find it's hard to drink more than one, sometimes not even all of one. Why? Because when you drink real sugar, your stomach sends a message to your brain telling it you're full. HFCS doesn't do that.

    There's that sorted. Now what's the cause of all the fatties in Britain?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      let me think....

      ..McDonalds, KFC, Pepsi,Coca C

      ola.........

    2. Tom 13

      Wow, where to begin....

      Starbucks started in Washington State, not Cali, where they probably couldn't have afforded the taxes let alone the accountants and lawyers to file the necessary paperwork.

      HFCS is cheaper than sugar because in addition to the LA purchase for Obamacare, LA keeps getting a sugar tax passed that inflates the cost of sugar to about twice what it would cost to import it from Jamaica. No need to tax HFCS, just abolish the distorting tax on imported sugar.

      HFCS vs "real sugar"? The body can't tell the difference between them. Both are carbs and trigger the same responses. The real problem is that you build up a tolerance to the responses, and therefore can consume more and more of it. Dr. Atkins might not have the safest diet in the world, but he got the biological cycles right on carbs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You what. ?

        Got the cycle right on carbs ?

      2. unitron

        Maybe not your body...

        "HFCS vs "real sugar"? The body can't tell the difference between them. "

        Mine certainly can, beginning at the taste buds.

        And before you blame LA, Google "U.S. sugar subsidies", as in federal level. They're the reason manufacturers went to corn syrup in the first place.

        1. Tom 13

          You need to learn your

          state abbreviations.

          And no, the digestive cycle can't tell the difference.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "And no, [...]"

            Since you initially stated that the "body can't tell the difference", I'm not sure why you think what follows is a reaffirmation. It isn't. You're slowly winding back your initial remark whilst pretending that you're not. Classic behaviour of the BS artiste.

            " the digestive cycle can't tell the difference."

            Explain the lack of insulin and leptin response to fructose consumption then.

    3. James Micallef Silver badge
      Facepalm

      I'm generally against taxing unhealthy stuff (and Sugar is as bad for the health as HFCS when consumed in industrial amounts - the problem really is that every drink, fast-food, prepackaged meal etc has LOTS of it) . Treat people as adults and let them make their own choices. Stop subsidising corn for HCFS and remove sugar import taxes (Heck, isn't it the USAans who are usually banging on about free trade? Or is that only when free trade helps you to sell stuff to Africa & Latin America, not to help them to sell you stuff?)

      Above all, people need to have a minimum of education about what rubbish is in a lot of food these days.

      1. Darryl

        Free trade? Not when they're in a recession.

        ...Then the "Buy American" protectionism comes out in full force, no matter what the consequences.

        So, are they going to exclude 'diet' drinks from this tax? After all, there's no sugar of any kind in a can of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi.

        1. Graham Dawson

          Of course they aren't. Diet drinks contain nasty chemicals that are known to the state of california to cause cancer and brain disease and all sorts of other nasty things, including hydroxilic acid and oxidane, not to mnetion carbonic acid. They release dangerous amounts of CO2 as well - a typical can contains CO2 at levels that would suffocate an adult male in minutes if they were in a room with the same percentage of the stuff in the air.

          Besides, you really think they'd let a little thing like a drink not containing the thing they're taxing prevent them from taxing it?

    4. Muscleguy Silver badge
      Boffin

      Sigh, not so high

      'High' fructose corn syrup is only high in fructose compared to untweaked corn syrup which is very low in fructose. The tweaking doesn't boost the level even near 50%, which is the level of fructose you get with cane sugar, which is sucrose: one glucose monomer bound to one fructose monomer. So in the past, with cane sugar, there was actually more of that nasty fructose in your Dr Pepper than there is now. The difference is that in the past you didn't drink soda by the bucketfull.

      BTW eating your calories in the form of sugar makes you fat because the spike in blood glucose overwhelm's your body's ability to store it as glycogen (assuming you have exercised recently to make some space for it in your muscles) so it gets stored as fat instead. Now in the case of your corn syrup vs cane sugar you have a point here. That is because sucrose (cane sugar) has a higher GI than HFCS. This is because firstly your body has to break the bond in sucrose (though saliva will do much of that) whereas HFCS is very largely monomeric glucose, with some monomeric fructose. Secondly, your body can't use fructose directly so it has to go through the liver where it gets converted into glucose. This makes fructose quite low GI because it only dribbles into the bloodstream. So the HFCS is worse than cane sugar, but not for the reasons you think.

    5. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Nevermind sin taxes...

      Nevermind the sin taxes.

      Cutting out the subsidies that keep the price of HFCS artificially low would be a good start.

  3. SuperTim
    Coat

    I can almost hear the...

    collective "big gulp" from consumers....

    See what I did there?

    I know, I am getting it now.

  4. Mike Flex

    > we have is too much High Fructose Corn Syrup in our soft drinks

    Whilst in the US I was offered the choice of US or Mexican "soda", the former made with HFCS, the latter with ordinary sugar.

    1. PT

      Mexican soda, made with sugar instead of HCFS, is very popular where I live in the SW in spite of being more than twice the price of the domestic article. You really can taste the difference. I don't often buy sugared drinks but if I'm having a party, I get a case of Mexican.

  5. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Taxing vices...

    I recall there's been an historic aversion to taxing various vices. Perhaps if I knew more about it, I'd understand better, because at least taxing a vice means you can still partake it IF you pay the admission. Perhaps if the practice were extended more broadly to cover things like excessively-sweetened or extra-salty foods or maybe things with more processed and fewer raw agricultural ingredients, it may start giving people pause. It might also help to even out the inherent imbalance between cheap but nasty vs. good but expensive food.

  6. SW
    Pint

    Here in France...

    The soft drink tax is already happening, starting in 2012 it is expected to generate 280 million euros. Enough I think to take care of the medical bills of all us BOFHs.

    Pint because I rather have a 'proper' pint than something stuffed full of dissolved sugars.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Except that drinking alcohol at work is rarely encouraged.

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Pint

        This *is* France we're talking about...

        ...so there's plenty of time for wine or beer during your 3 hour lunch break.

        1. Nev Silver badge

          33 Hour Lunch Break..!?

          Don't be silly. No one in France takes a 3 hour lunch break.

          We wouldn't have enough time in the day to plan our 48 days of holiday if we did that!

      2. MrXavia
        WTF?

        @Greg J Preece

        "Except that drinking alcohol at work is rarely encouraged."

        Maybe not in the office, But surely the lunchtime pint is still a tradition among British techies?

        The best work is always done after a lunchtime pint of a real ale or scrumpy!

        1. Greg J Preece
          "Maybe not in the office, But surely the lunchtime pint is still a tradition among British techies?" It would be if it wouldn't get me sacked.
    2. Ian Yates

      Government Maths

      Looks like both your example and the one in the article suffer from the usual "have your cake and eat it" style of government maths.

      On the one hand, they're touting the tax as a way to reduce people's consumption of bad_product_A; but on the other they're extolling the financial gains of such a tax based on the initial figures... go figure

  7. RogerT

    "This equates to a cool 45 gallons per head per year on average: or roughly enough to fill the Suez Canal with Peach Snapple."

    What a wonderful new unit of volume. I've not noticed the Suez Canal before.

    1. Oninoshiko

      The Suez Canal

      It's a giant hold in the ground, dug from 1859 to 1869, then filled with water so ships can pass. Frankly I don't know how you could miss it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How I missed the Suez Canal

        Can't pee straight...

  8. dotdavid
    Facepalm

    "First they came...

    ...for the alcohol drinkers, but I said nothing because I don't like pubs and the youth of today swigging cider from 2L bottles outside my local off-licence.

    Next they came for the carbonated beverage drinkers, but I said nothing as I wouldn't touch that teeth-rotting rubbish with a bargepole - it's 100% Organic Pret-a-Manger fruit juices all the way for me.

    Now they come for me, and everyone still thinks I'm an arsehole."

    On a different note, I suspect tap water isn't too long for this world either. 100% of people who drink it die.

  9. Pirate Dave Silver badge
    Pirate

    Fuck them

    I Love Coca-Cola. There, I said it. If they want something to tax, let them start taxing the publication of overbearing scholarly studies showing how we Americans still aren't eating/drinking properly, even after decades of the "We know better than you" nanny-isms coming from these self-righteous medical researchers. As a taxpayer and unconcerned consumer, I'm getting rather tired of the constant parade of "things to be afraid of" - BPAs, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, red meat, white meat, sun tans, cholesterol, alcohol. Fuck 'em all, none of us are going to live forever. If they want to live an ascetic lifestyle, fine, move to the Himalayas and find a local Guru. Leave the rest of us workaday Joes the fuck alone to muddle through our lives.

    1. Dances With Sheep
      Boffin

      We know better than you

      > "We know better than you" nanny-isms coming from these self-righteous medical researchers.

      I hate to say it, but those self-righteous medical researchers actually DO know better than you. (Since I take it you don’t have a medical degree?).

      They have given genuine scientific advice ("corn syrup is bad m'kay "). On an individual level, you are free to ignore this if you wish. On a national level, you can vote for a government that either takes or ignores scientific advice.

      *cough* EcstasyIsSaferThanHorseRiding *cough*

      I'm just sayin' :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > I hate to say it, but those self-righteous medical researchers actually DO know better than you.

        Unfortunately, those self-righteous medical researchers also have an agenda they're pushing that runs counter to their arguments. Fruit juices have a higher caloric density than sodas, but researchers don't want to mention that. They want people to believe that fruit juice is good for you when it isn't. For what few vitamins you can get from fruit juice, you're better off eating a piece of fresh fruit.

        Until they come for fruit juice, all their noise about sodas is just hot air.

        1. LaeMing Silver badge
          Facepalm

          The researchers are underpants gnomes?

          1) Switch the population from high sugar soft-drinks to high sugar 'fruit' juices

          2) ...

          3) Profit!

          Unless you can come up with a (credible) motive for a great conspiracy, you are just blowing holes in the back of your own undies!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Considering how much sugar is in a tangerine, you are better off eating a chocolate bar.

          1. JEDIDIAH
            Linux

            The glycemic hit.

            Considering the size of your average tangerine, it can't have more sugar than a chocolate bar. It's just too small. On the other hand, the biochemical impact of the sugar in fruit is offset by the rest of the fruit.

            Plus the fruit hasn't had all of it's best nutrients destroyed by pastuerization.

          2. Muscleguy Silver badge
            Boffin

            Step away from the fruit and nut

            No. That chocolate bar contains lots of sucrose (cocoa is bitter, remember?) whereas your tangerine is largely full of fructose. As I explain above, fructose is low GI and eating it encapsulated in acid, fibrous goodness lowers the GI further. This is not true of tangerine juice, no fibre to speak of, no cell walls to break down and may have added sucrose. Eat the tangerine.

            BTW not all fruit is low GI, pineapples for eg are high in sucrose. Look at the GI tables, use them.

        3. Andy Christ

          Yes and No

          Soda and fruit juice have about the same range of "caloric density"-- usually about 100 to 140 calories per serving. And a glass of pure orange juice contains over 100% the daily requirement of Vitamin C, plus a goodly amount of Potassium and Folic acid, nutrients you will not find in carbonated beverages. The problem with fruit juices is that all the nutritional fiber is generally removed, and it is all too easy to consume larger volumes through the course of a day than might be beneficial.

          The greater problem, as I see it, is that sweetened beverages are often the only affordable option for those on the lower end of the economic scale, who might actually depend on them for part of basic sustenance. Until healthful alternatives are made both more affordable and available, perhaps through subsidies, the proposal of such a regressive tax seems kinda cruel.

          1. JEDIDIAH
            Linux

            No purity in industrial food

            > And a glass of pure orange juice ...which you're only going to get if you juiced it yourself. Any factory made juice is going to have the life boiled out of it. It has to. Otherwise you will end up killing people from food poisoning. Seriously. Odwalla killed people this way.
    2. Tom 13
      Flame

      I'll go you one better:

      we shouldn't HAVE to wait for the revolution to put these kinds of fascist bastages up against the wall.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Where's the harm in moderation? Sadly something I didn't learn until I got to around 35 and 23 stone! I know I am a fat porker ( now down to 18 stone after 2 years ) due to eating to much wrong food! No excuses. No one else to blame. I had to learn to put the damn fork down!

      Eat and drink the shite you like but just do it occasionally and balance that greasy kebab with a salad the next day. The can of coke with a couple of glasses of water and the plate of chips with a jacket spud ( no butter ).

      Saying we all die is all well and good but what about those left behind? I cut back the shite when my first kid was born as I didn't what her learning my very bad diet habits I had. What about the method of death? A slow protracted blindness due to diabetes? How about a stroke from shite flowing up your blood stream into your noggin? How about a nice classic and very painful heart-attack? What about spending the rest of your life in a wheel chair after your joints get so screwed up due to too much weight on 'em?

      Eating shite sounds fine when your body is still coping with it but sooner or later it becomes habit and all all that shite builds up and comes back to get you. I still eat shite but now I do it very occasionally just as a treat.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ignorant

    Most people are so ignorant they don't even think about the food or beverages they consume. Then they wonder why they have so many health issues. Taxing sugary beverages won't lower consumption because most people are just too stupid to stop drinking this crap.

  11. EyeCU
    Megaphone

    Doctors take note

    Your job is NOT to dictate how we have to live our lives or what we are allowed to do to our bodies.

    Your job is to do research and educate based on your results. After you have delivered the information to the public your job is done, it is then up to the individual to make their own decision based on the information they have been given. If that person then CHOOSES (Important point!) to drink alcohol, smoke, eat fatty foods, drink sugary drinks then that is entirely up to them. They have the information to make an informed choice and have done so. We are not children who need someone to tell them what they can and can't do because we don't know any better.

    If our lifestyle choices then lead to poor health it is then your job to patch us up the best you can and give advice on how we can improve our health. Again it is our CHOICE if we want to listen to you, if we don't then we accept the consequences of our actions. If that means a shorter life then so be it, at least we enjoyed it while it lasted.

    1. bitmap animal

      But then the health system has to spend many years tending to their medical problems. If people could not get NHS care for diabetes and other illnesses associated then that would be a better situation.

      1. EyeCU

        Why

        The people have paid for the NHS in taxes why shouldn't they be able to use it?

        In particular smokers pay far far more in taxes than than they cost the NHS in related illnesses. Last official figures show that smokers pay £10bn in taxes per year on cigarettes alone and cost the NHS £1.7bn for related illnesses so how is a tax increase or refusal of treatment from the NHS fair?

        Same goes for all the other so called vices. It's all well and good claiming that they cost the NHS x amount of £s per year but how much have they generated in tax already? Why should people pay any more tax under the guise of 'protecting public health' when they have already paid enough to pay for these services many times over?

        The only change I would make is to stop repeat offenders. If you go to the doctors with the same complaint multiple times and it is known to be easily treatable with a lifestyle change and you continually refuse to change your habits then I think doctors should then be able to refuse treatment. Why waste resources when the person has proven that they don't care so let them deal with the consequences. If they are willing to change then resources should be made available to them to help them change but only if it is their choice and show that they are genuinely committed to changing otherwise you are wasting money that could be spent on someone who needs it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If our lifestyle choices then lead to poor health it is then your job to patch us up the best you can and give advice on how we can improve our health. Again it is our CHOICE if we want to listen to you, if we don't then we accept the consequences of our actions."

      Very American! I suppose it's up to you to pay for all the fixing up and not expect everyone else to pay for it, though.

      1. EyeCU

        American?

        I think not, born and bred British.

        Tell me this - If I have already paid more in tax than someone who lives the classic 'healthy' lifestyle how are they subsidising me? I think you will find it the other way around. What if everybody took up that lifestyle? The NHS would sink because of the drop in tax revenue. I'm sure increasing everybody's income tax by a substantial amount to cover the shortfall would go down really well with everybody. We already get taxed enough on the 'bad' stuff and it pays for a lot of the things you take for granted so there is no excuse to penalise those who don't fall into the 'healthy' line even more.

        What about the extra burden of everybody living longer? They are already screaming that they can't afford the pensions, that there isn't enough housing, that there isn't enough carers or care facilities. This country and the world as a whole cannot afford to have everybody living to 90+

        How about putting extra taxes on 'healthy' stuff to offset those extra years that they will be a burden for?

    3. William 14
      Flame

      The CHOICE to be a drain...

      I think your CHOICEs should also preclude you from obtaining health insurance or government subsidized health or retirement programs as you have made the CHOICE to ruin your body in contradiction of doctor's orders. Thanks for driving up healthcare costs with your double-wide arse.

      1. EyeCU
        FAIL

        @William 14

        Nice ASSumption there

        Not that it's any of your business but I am 5'9 and weigh 11st, not what you would call fat. I smoke, I drink and occasionally eat a macdonalds so what of it?

        I also go hiking, cycle, climb mountains and play football so am I healthy or not? Physically I am fine and have been to the doctors exactly once in about 5 years. I work and pay a decent amount of income tax, NI etc so when something does happen to me in the future why shouldn't I expect to be looked after. I've already paid for it you self-righteous prick

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Oh dear, EyeCU ...

          ... you state that "I also go hiking, cycle, climb mountains and play football ..." By the formula that William14 put up, you are therefore ineligible for healthcare on the NHS if you sustain injury either now or in the future as a result of any of these things. Need a new hip or knee in the future - well, you deliberately went out and did things that doctors know lead to deterioration of the joints. It was your YOUR CHOICE, and so you either pay for it yourself, or suffer. After all, the NHS is only there for you if your illness/injury is nothing to do with your actions or choices. [New paragraph]* This is the problem with the argument put forward by loons like William14 - there are many things that happen to us that would have been different if we did something other than what we did. "Oh, you got hit by a car whilst crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing - well, we can't treat you because you chose to do that!" I am definitely with you - do what you like, pay your taxes, and the medical system is there to deal with it if you want it to (I used to treat alcoholics and drug addicts, and so I have put may money where my mouth is). *Forum still isn't accepting paragraph breaks, for some reason.
      2. Oninoshiko
        Big Brother

        @william 14

        I have no problem with that. Provided you don't ask me to pay for it.

        You can't have your triple sterilized super fortified vegetable protean pellets and eat them too.

      3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
        FAIL

        Being kicked out of the NHS...

        @William14

        "..I think your CHOICEs should also preclude you from obtaining health insurance or government subsidized health or retirement programs.."

        No problem at all. Of course, being precluded from the NHS or Social Security means that we won't have to pay the taxes which pay for these, and we will make our own provision.

        I hope you like trying to fund that vast Ponzi scheme on your own...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Only if you're willing to pay for your ignorance

      I'm not going to pay higher health insurance, auto insurance, home insurance, city, state and federal taxes to pay for your irresponsible behavior. Unless you're willing to pay for your indulgences you can rot on the sidewalk as far as I am concerned. You chose your "lifestyle" and you can suffer the consequences of your poor life choices.

  12. Chrome

    John Spartan

    You have been fined one half credit for a violation of...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    If the yanks just taxed being fat, say 1 dollar per month for every BMI point over, say, 25, the US government would become more rich than they could possibly imagine. Even if they pushed the threshold to 30 they'd be minted.

    1. Scott 2
      Thumb Up

      Eurpoeans too

      We could do this - the usual tax breaks for the medically overweight, but hell yeah, 0.10% on every £1 (or €1) on every point over your BMI.

      Obesity = Solved.

      National Debt Crisis = Solved.

      1. Greg J Preece

        It'd be a great idea if BMI wasn't horseshit!

    2. darkmage0707077
      Meh

      BMI has been discredited by numerous studies and nutritional researchers. A better measure being proposed now is the Hip to Waist ratio:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waist-hip_ratio

      1. Local Group
        Thumb Down

        "It appears that men are more influenced by female waist-size than hip-size." HW Ratio

        This explains the popularity of Kim Kardashian. From front or back, her hips and butt remind me of a straw archery target.
  14. lyngvi

    high fructose corn syrup...

    The reason the US uses high fructose corn syrup is b/c it is cheaper, in the US, than sugar.

    The reason it is cheaper than sugar is our large tax subsidies for corn.

    The reason we need to subsidize corn is because sugar is because, otherwise, it is non-competitive with sugar imported from central America.

    It is non-competitive with central American sugar because labor in central America is dirt cheap and they aren't inconvenienced by our environmental regulations (drinking water tastes better well-fertilized, after all.)

    The normal solution to this would be to apply tariffs to central American sugar, but we can't do that b/c it would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    I would assert that perhaps, instead of taxing soda extra, we could just, and I know this sounds crazy, but: We could just *not* subsidize it. But that would require a large chain of policy changes that are just infeasible: Anyone who doesn't like NAFTA is a crazy hippie socialist, and anyone who wants to lift corn subsidies hates the American people. (Though I find it hilarious that I've found a way to blame a portion of the US obesity epidemic on NAFTA...)

    Enjoy that soda, Pirate Dave. We're all paying good money to ensure that it's as cheap as it is.

    1. unitron
      Black Helicopters

      and the other reason...

      And the other reason it's cheaper than sugar is that sugar prices in the U.S. are artificially high, courtesy of the government, which is what drove manufacturers to corn syrup in the first place.

      Google "U.S. sugar subsidies", been going on practically since there was a US, but it got worse about a generation ago.

      I personally believe New Coke was a way to get the old stuff off the market so they could bring it back with HFCS instead of sugar.

      closest they've got for an 'it's the government's fault" icon

    2. Gerhard Mack
      FAIL

      no

      Corn has been subsidized since before NAFTA was even thought of.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It is non-competitive with central American sugar because labor in central America is dirt cheap and they aren't inconvenienced by our environmental regulations (drinking water tastes better well-fertilized, after all.)"

      It may also be the case that cane sugar is just a more efficient crop than corn for delivering sugary goodness and is better-suited to being grown in Central America. Not arguing about the lack of regulations, though, even though the US is also pretty bad in that department as well.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        More efficient than corn, perhaps, but what about vs. sugar beets?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Watch this, especially the chemistry lesson in the second half

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    An eye-opener.

  16. Ralph B
    Boffin

    "Tapwater-only"?!

    You've got to be joking! No American will risk drinking tapwater since they heard that it is heavily contaminated with dihydrogen monoxide!

    See http://www.dhmo.org/ for details.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge
      Joke

      Funny thing that..

      If DHMO were so toxic, how come fish can live their entire lives immersed in it (and dolphins and other aquatic mammals survive for long periods in it)? If DHMO were so toxic, why does it compose around 70% of our mass?

      Nah, what people are afraid of are the chlorine and flouride that "the gubmint" is pumping into our taps every day, without any recourse to remove it. They say it kills bad things and strengthens our teeth...but that's what THEY say, of course.

  17. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Pint

    TAX THE SINFUL FALLEN TO SAVE THEIR HEALTH!

    "It would deliver a hefty $13bn in revenue to the hard-pressed US exchequer"

    Promptly blown on such health-improving devices like The Depleted Uranium Sand Denizen Enduring Genetic Improvement Project (DUSDE-GIP).

    I also think the US economy could currently use 13 billion "in the pocket" that are not being "redistributed" by confused left-wing programs, even it is currently spend on giving people the sugary shakes. Why not consider the absence of tax a stimulus?

    Beer now!

  18. Richard Pennington 1
    Boffin

    Unit conversions

    Remember, when calculating how many Olympic Swimming Pools (or even Suez Canals) are involved, that the starting point is US gallons, which are smaller than Imperial (UK) gallons.

    Perhaps across the pond they should use Panama Canals, rather than Suez Canals.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they think the best way to stop people drinking "sweet carbonated beverages" is to price them closer to the cost of beer.

    They might be correct but I really don't think they've thought this through.

  20. Mike Flex

    >So they think the best way to stop people drinking "sweet carbonated beverages" is to price them closer to the cost of beer.

    If you're considering US beer is there actually a difference?

    1. Aaron Em

      Just because

      you live in a country where people like to make a distinction between "beer" and "food", you never stop getting nonsense about it from the subjects of the failed empire which predeceased your own...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In germany soft drinks are almost the same price as beer, so when I'm there I drink beer all the time instead of coke. The same would happen here if a can of coke was more expensive.

  22. Curly4
    Big Brother

    Liberals

    Leave it to the great liberal state of California to tell its people what they can and cannot do. You can choose to do just about anything else which will destroy the body (costing millions in medical and other cost) but one cannot choose to drink sweetened carbonated drinks. That is SO LIBERAL!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Well...without all those folks keeling over from heart disease if they ARE highly taxed...

    ...there soon will be an outcry from the doctors who pracitce cardiovascular disease medicine...as their numbers of patients will be greatly reduced...and therefore reduce their personal incomes.

    Next...luxury home builders will suffer...then luxury car makers...then country clubs...and on and on. It will RUIN the world's economies! What's that? They're already in the toilet? Never mind.

  24. Local Group
    Boffin

    We need a cure

    For the munchies. Do you have them in England?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes

      Stout

  25. Floormeister

    The article is incredibly stupid and the replies are taking "commentard" to a whole new Suez Canal dredged bottom level.

    First, there is no "government" involved in this proposal. There are only scientists looking at the impact of what would happen IF (you see that little word there) you instituted a proposed policy. I know Mr. Page has only a passing interest (what with all his axes to grind) in facts but the rest of you should (and used to) be smarter. If you disagree and can do so intelligently the folks at Health Affairs would love to have your informed input.

    Second, even if something is taxed you can still enjoy it. No one is taking away anything (that's right no one is even "taking away" your money they are just trying to make you pay for some part of the costs you are creating for society). I understand that this may not be desired or needed but that is why the article was written in the first place. Maybe should tax whining like a two-year old as a form of adult discourse (my life would be better so maybe I can extrapolate from that).

    Third, your imagination and knowledge about soft drinks are woefully narrow. Even if there was a tax base HFCS and a multitude of other sugars, there would be hundreds of options available to you untaxed (but it is easier to whine like a little baby isn't it while creating bogus dichotomies about "tapwater"?). One famous brand even made tons of money on flavored water (no sugar) until some International Industrial Sugar Supplier bought them. Surely they can just go back to what make them 0.00001% less margin than the sugar crap their ADD focus group told them was "preferred".

  26. zanto
    Pint

    let them thaxsh shoft drinksh all they wanth

    Jusht leave beer out of it.

  27. SteveE
    Thumb Up

    I'm healthier now that I've quit...

    I used to drink an embarrassingly large amount of soft drinks. I had nurses literally yell at me "this shit is leaching the calcium out of your bones! Chemical soup!" etc. It was also eroding my front teeth.

    It was diet, so I didn't have the weight problem with it. But I still felt uncomfortable drinking liters of that s*** per day. So I went cold-turkey about 9 months ago.

    Healthier? Before I quit, I used to get colds every 2 months. They were usually full-fledged symptoms. And often didn't feel 100% before the next one hit.

    I've had 2 colds since I quit, and they were not very intense. Others I've talked to have had the same experience. Empirical - your mileage may vary, especially if you drink in moderation. I sure didn't.

    My drink of choice now? Good Earth "Original" Tea. A sweet cinnamon taste unlike black tea. But no sugar. Much less caffeine. Works for me - I get it in bulk on Amazon.

  28. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    WTF?

    45 gallons?!

    170L per capita, assuming US Customary units...

    That explains everything.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      That is, assuming that number's accurate...

    2. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Bad math education everywhere...

      > 170L per capita, assuming US Customary units...

      >

      > That explains everything

      That's about a pint a day. Not a crushing amount really.

      Your average Starbucks is probably worse than that. It takes a lot of HFCS to sweeten coffee to American tastes.

  29. Someone Else Silver badge
    Coat

    Well, then...

    "You would also prevent 240,000 cases of diabetes per year," says Bimbo- Dominguez....er...Bibbins-Domingo, again repeating that oft-debunked meme that ingesting sugar causes diabetes.

    But that's OK because <sarcasm tag=in case you missed it>I only drink diet soda, so not only will I not contract the sugar diabetes, but as there is no sugar in my chosen poison ^W libation, so I will be exempt from the good Professor's nanny-tax as well!</sarcasm>

    A big win all around, I wot.

  30. anaru
    Thumb Down

    Goverments Belong To People

    NOT vice versa. A government is a tool that WE created, that WE fund and that WE own. It exists to do our bidding. It absolutely does not exist as an end in itself and it does not exist to shape us into some random individual's ideal of what a "good" person is. We are not the property of our respective governments.

    It's a shame people have become so lazy and so accustomed to having a machine to do everything for them, that they are starting to confuse a government with a machine to make lifestyle and health decisions for them.

    As for the sugar tax: the "obesity epidemic" - such as it exists outside of media hysteria - in the US is almost entirely due to the US government's protectionist economic intervention (letting corn growers pretend their product is worth something when it isn't). The resultant HFCS mountain has led to US junkfoods becoming even more unhealthy than those containing "normal" sugar. Now the lazy people I mentioned earlier are asking the government to sort their lives out for them yet again and asking for requesting GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN THE ECONOMY TO REMEDY THE EFFECTS OF GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN THE ECONOMY.

    What an awesome enlightened world we live in.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      "US junkfoods becoming even more unhealthy"

      Please be careful - unless food is going off, or contains a poison, or a known pathogen, there is no such thing as "unhealthy food". Food is food, and it may contain more or less of the nutrients any given individual needs at any given time. Consider being shipwrecked on the proverbial desert island, knowing that you will be there for at least four weeks. You have a fresh water supply, but floating off the beach are three containers - one full of vacuum-packed bacon, one with canned fruit, and one with diet bars. You can save only one before the tide changes. Which would you choose? The sane person would go for the bacon, not the diet crap or the fruit, if s/he wanted to be maximally healthy when rescued.[New paragraph] I'm very keen on this, having just had surgery which means that I have had to concentrate on getting as many calories in as I can in order to get my weight back up. In this insane "healthy food" society it has actually been difficult to get proper food with proper amounts of calories, and KFC, Burger King and CocaCola have been an absolute godsend.
  31. Local Group
    Joke

    @ anaru

    >>"A government is a tool that WE created, that WE fund and that WE own. It exists to do our bidding.">>

    Tell that to the Bilderberg-Illuminati wing of the Trilateral Commission's New World Order.

  32. Joe Montana
    FAIL

    Tax...

    BMI is not a good way to measure someone's obesity, people with large muscle mass will have a high BMI despite having very little body fat... A lot of sports players would be considered obese based on BMI despite being extremely healthy.

  33. Nameless Faceless Computer User
    Devil

    It is a myth that sugar causes diabetes. It does not cause Type I diabetes. It does not cause Type 2 diabetes. The real health risk is fat, provided to us in processed foods and fast food provided by large corporations.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Mushroom

      The bogeyman du jour...

      Here's a novel idea. Just don't be a pig. Practice boring old world food habits and follow simple time tested heuristics. Moderation and balance. Unfortunately there's a lot of politics rather than science in modern nutrition.
  34. Local Group
    Boffin

    Tired of talking the talk...

    ...try walking the walk.

    << "Scientists have known for a long time that rats, mice, and worms that eat very little live longer than those that eat normal diets. Now, the results of research on humans are starting to emerge. It may take decades to prove that people who carefully regulate their calories and eating patterns extend their life span, but at the very least, some scientists say, these people may avoid many health problems associated with aging." >>

    << "Dr. Walford is credited with significantly furthering research on the discovery that laboratory mice, when fed a diet that restricted their caloric intake by 50% yet maintained nutritional requirements, could almost double their expected life span." >> (Wikipedia)

  35. Mike48US

    didn't anyone here take chemistry in school

    Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847.[3] Pure, dry fructose is a very sweet, white, odorless, crystalline solid and is the most water-soluble of all the sugars.[4] From plant sources, fructose is found in honey, tree and vine fruits, flowers, berries and most root vegetables. In plants, fructose may be present as the monosaccharide and/or as a component of sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide with a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose bonded together with a glycosidic linkage. Most modern fruits and vegetables have been bred to have much higher sugar content than the wild plants they are descended from.

    Commercially, fructose is usually derived from sugar cane, sugar beets and corn and there are 3 commercially important forms. Crystalline fructose is the monosaccharide, dried and ground, and of high purity. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a mixture of glucose and fructose as monosaccharides. Sucrose is the third form. All forms of fructose, including fruits and juices, are commonly added to foods and drinks for palatability, taste enhancement and improved browning of some foods, such as baked goods.

    from wiki...

  36. blem wit

    Father State knows best

    What they need to do is get the hell away from my pocket, my drinks and my life!

    Stop this Sims game, this sim wants to get out and live in the woods. It seems the only possible way not to be bothered and anally probed by a goverment official at every turn.

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