It is November and San Francisco has finally approached the ongoing debate over the soda tax and the health impacts of sugar consumption. Yes, many people arguing against the soda tax say that eating sugary foods is just as bad, but liquid sugar consumption is a whole different science with a slew of negative health effects.
Proposition E, colloquially known as the soda tax, is set out to impose a two-cent tax on every ounce of soda and other sugary drinks in the city of San Francisco. This rise in price is expected to cut the consumption of soda, raising tens of millions of dollars a year toward nutrition programs, healthy school meals and other types of physical education for kindergarten through high school students. This not only will create longer and healthier lives by instilling healthy habits early on, but it will also reduce the amount of spending on health care for these issues.
Obesity has become quite a problem in the United States, and we know that it can lead to other health issues such as heart disease and diabetes. We are also aware that people who have never even had a can of soda or another form of liquid sugar can also still be overweight and be consumed by such diseases. So why are we singling out soda?
There are many things that play a role in the obesity epidemic and the growing cases of diseases such as physical inactivity and diet, but we are now in a health crisis. Tragically, three out of five adults and one out of every three children in California are currently overweight or obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It only makes sense to start taking on the issue by cutting out the largest contributor to these diseases.
Our bodies respond differently to sugar intake depending on the form of consumption. Cookies, ice cream and cake make us feel full because they are in solid form. Thus, we stop eating and reduce the amount of sugar we consume. This doesn’t exactly happen when we drink soda. Our bodies digest liquid calories much faster than solids, resulting in spiked blood sugar levels. We are completely unaware of ingesting these harmful, empty calories.
Two types of sugars are absorbed when soda is ingested: glucose and fructose. The glucose enters the bloodstream and signals the pancreas to whip out more insulin while the fructose pretty much gets directly turned into fat after entering the liver. Diabetes is one of the major results.
I don’t think a lot of people, including myself, realize what they are doing to their bodies while gulping down a can of soda in less than five minutes. It is something that goes almost unnoticed until it is too late and physical health is in danger.
According to SF Gate and primary-care physician Dean Schillinger who works with low-income families at UCSF, diabetes is not just a disease that affects elderly people. Sweetened beverages are the largest source of sugar in the American diet to date and have the biggest health impact in comparison to other sources of sugar.
Imposing Proposition E gives society the chance to turn things around and repair the damage caused by sugary beverages. Taxing two cents per ounce on soda will not only raise money to help relieve the issues already at hand, it also will help limit the sales of the diabetes-inhibiting beverage, preventing as many future problems.