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New York City Proposes Soda Tax

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I blogged yesterday about how New York City is leading the country by legislating changes in restaurants and food companies to improve the health of it's citizens. They have banned trans fat, required calories to be listed on menus, started advertising campaigns against sugary drinks, and the recently announced that they are calling for less sodium in foods.

Now New York Governor David Paterson brought back a proposal (which was rejected last year) to add a tax to sugared beverages. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in favor of the tax. The tax would be a penny for every ounce of sugared soda sold in the city.

The mayor told a state senate committee yesterday that this will help work on the obesity epidemic and provide revenue for the city. He quoted obesity statistics stating, "It's in the interest of us all to prevent that form happening now--and the surest pathway to changing behavior is through the wallet."

What do you think about city, state, or federal government adding taxes to junk foods to try to control your weight? Is that too big brother? Do you think an extra 12 cents per can of soda would prevent you from purchasing it? You can bet that the soda companies are not pleased with this idea.

While I am not a fan of extra sugar added to the diet with liquid calories, I am not sure this tax is the answer. Regular sodas definitely contribute "empty calories," meaning they have calories without any nutritional value. However, I still firmly believe that we need to be responsible for our own choices. Regular soda can be consumed in moderation without contributing to obesity. Those people who drink it and are able to balance their calories with activity should not have to pay more for one of their pleasures in life. I love chocolate and I do not want to see a chocolate tax just because it contains high amounts of sugar and saturated fat. I am a healthy weight and have healthy levels of cholesterol and I am relatively responsible with my chocolate consumption. And if I wasn't responsible with my consumption, it is my own responsibility to fix. I can tell you that paying a few more pennies for my chocolate will not change my consumption.

I don't claim to have all of the answers and I support most of the recent legislation which assists people in making healthier choices. But I just don't think taxing high calorie foods is the answer.

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Nutrition Trends

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MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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