Author: benw

Sugar Should be Taxed

PRO (4 arguments)


Sugar- refined sugar



1) “The magnitude of the health benefits from a sugar tax are projected to be greatest for African Americans, Mexican Americans and those with limited incomes, populations with the highest rates of diabetes and sugar consumption in California,” Huffington Post writer Holly Robinson said.


2)  Nearly 34 percent, or 75 million,  Americans are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The growing obesity rate has led to high cholesterol, and an increase in chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer. The goal of the tax is to curb sales of unhealthy food and decrease over-consumption, which will help to prevent disease.


1. The money from the tax would be used to benefit the community.

Using the San Francisco sugar tax as an example of where money from such a tax would end up, 40 percent to the San Francisco Unified School District. 25 percent to the Department of Public Health and the Public Utilities Commission. 25 percent to the Recreation and Parks Department, of which 15 percent would be set aside for allocation to community-based organizations, 10 percent to be allocated through the Department of Public Health to fund grants for community-based organizations. This would serve as a model for most sugar taxes that would be implemented. San Francsico estimates a sugar tax would generate upwards of $50 million — money the city plans to steer into programs to cut hunger, increase access to healthier foods, and pay for more teachers in schools. Effective campaigns in better health have been shown to cost .22 per resident, or in New York $4 million out of a potential $423 million in tax revenue from a sugar tax. There are also some clear cost benefits to preventative education as opposed to have to take care of problems after: a campaign reaching 200,000 people would cost about the same as 1 coronary bypass operation.

2. A tax on sugar would save millions in medical costs.

According to Huffington Post, a proposed sugar tax would save about $620 million in medical costs in just one city the size of San Francisco. This money saved is just for one city. Judge, if we factor in all the cities around the United States, the money saved is staggering- in the billions. The study also predicted a 0.5 to 1 percent drop in incident coronary heart disease cases and a 0.5 to 0.9 percent drop in total myocardial infractions resulting from a sugar tax, yielding an additional $14 million to $27 million savings. The study authors from the Huffington Post wrote. “These findings suggest that reductions in sugar consumption as might be achieved from proposed taxes could have a marked population-wide health benefit for California and have the additional benefit of reducing race/ethnic and income disparities in diabetes and heart disease.” Researchers projected $13 billion in new annual tax revenues and, importantly, a $17 billion savings in health care costs over 10 years. In the United States, studies estimated direct medical costs related to obesity as high as $147 billion for 2008,12 representing 9.1% of total annual medical spending. On average, an obese person incurs 42% more in medical costs than someone of normal weight, with the majority of these costs covering treatment of obesity-induced diseases.14 One study estimates that “Medicare and Medicaid spending would be 8.5 percent and 11.8 percent lower, respectively, in the absence of obesity.”15 Given current national, state, and local budgetary constraints, the tremendous medical costs caused by obesity and borne by taxpayers are a significant cause for concern in the United States.

3. The public is in favor of taxing sugar.

Judge, on January 1st, 2015, the first sugar tax in the United States was administered in Berkeley, with an overwhelming 75% vote. In San Francisco, the sugar tax received 54% of  the vote. More major cities around the country have already addressed their support for this tax, and many other countries around the world have a working sugar tax. The sugar tax is already proven to successfully complete its job; in Mexico sugar consumption has dropped 10% in the year since the sugar tax has been activated. A study from the University of Wisconsin shows that soda taxes work much better than expected. It’s not as if the working class has anything to fear from this tax, says a study from the University of Illinois, because this tax will result in a net job gain.  For example, a poll of New York residents found that 52% supported a soda tax, but the number rose to 72% when respondents were told that the revenue would be used for obesity prevention.

4. Sugar has a very harmful effect on your body, and a sugar tax will reduce the number of people in the United States with illnesses, especially diabetes.

A 2012 paper in the journal Nature, brought forth the idea that limitations and warnings should be placed on sugar similar to warnings we see on alcohol. The authors showed evidence that fructose and glucose in excess can have a toxic effect on the liver as the metabolism of ethanol -- the alcohol contained in alcoholic beverages had similarities to the metabolic pathways that fructose took. Further, sugar increased the risk for several of the same chronic conditions that alcohol was responsible for. A 2013 study by the Huffington Post found that liver damage could occur even without excess calories or weight gain. Also, a 2013 study estimated that 180,000 deaths worldwide may be attributed to sweetened beverage consumption. The United States alone accounted for 25,000 deaths in 2010. The authors summarize that deaths occurred due to the association with sugar-sweetened beverages and chronic disease risk such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.A 2009 study found a positive relationship between glucose consumption and the aging of our cells. Aging of the cells consequently can be the cause of something as simple as wrinkles to something as dire as chronic disease. But there is other alarming evidence that sugar may affect the aging of your brain as well. A 2012 study found that excess sugar consumption was linked to deficiencies in memory and overall cognitive health. A 2009 study in rats showed similar findings. A study by Huffington Post predicted a 0.5 to 1 percent drop in incident coronary heart disease cases and a 0.5 to 0.9 percent drop in total myocardial infarctions resulting from a sugar tax. The sugar tax would also lower obesity rates by 3.5% in a city such as San Francisco, or 23,000 fewer people with obesity. A new University of California study offers these projections: A tax on sugar would prevent nearly 2.4 million cases of diabetes, 95,000 cases of heart disease, 8,000 strokes and 26,000 premature deaths in the next decade. Robert Lustig, professor at the University of Southern California, says,  “The UN Secretary General, declared that non-communicable disease — that is, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease — is a bigger threat to the entire world, developed and developing, than is infectious disease.” He tells us that these diseases kill 35 million people every year. He says that there are 30 per cent more obese people in the world than undernourished people. In 2011, there were 366 million diabetics in the world — more than double the number in 1980, and 5 per cent of the population. In the US, by 2030 this figure might be as high as 33 per cent. With a sugar tax, that number would significantly be lowered, Robert Lustig states. In the United States, 68% of adults and 31.7% of children and adolescents are currently either overweight or obese. The average American consumes more than double American Heart Association’s recommendation—some 365 calories per day, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. 

CON (5 arguments)


1)  “In dealing with an obesity and public health crisis, the worst thing we can do is tell people not to have sugar, which is exactly what a sugar tax is telling consumers.”-Fergus Clydesdale.

2)  A proposed sugar tax in San Francisco would cause businesses to lose about $63 million in annual revenues, related to customer purchases redirected to lower-price competitors located outside the city’s borders and an overall decrease in demand for a product.

1. A tax on sugar will harm minorities and people in poverty.

A 2006 study by Columbia University found that “sugar taxes” harmed low-income families more than higher-income families. In the study sample, families with high incomes, defined at $100,000 annually, suffered harm of $24.29, half the harm of $47.38 incurred by poor families, defined at $20,000 annually. This was the amount of money lost per month and is far too much money for families already in poverty. Research published by the Forum for Health Economics & Policy supports this claim. The report, which measures the impact a 10 percent fat tax would have on families of varying income levels, concludes that "almost the entire burden of the fat tax falls on poor families. The regulatory burden for the average family declines rapidly with income. ...Thus the burden at $20,000 is nearly 10 times larger than that at $100,000." Additionally, a 2008 study published by the Journal of Urban Health found an association between sugar consumption and race, age, and income. The paper found that individuals with low incomes were nearly twice as likely to purchase and consume sugar as were those whose incomes were significantly higher, meaning a tax on sugar will disproportionately harm low income individuals.

2. A sugar tax will harm businesses.

According to a document published by the California Legislative Analyst Office, a proposed sugar tax in San Francisco would cause businesses to lose about $63 million in annual revenues, related to customer purchases redirected to lower-price competitors located outside the city’s borders and an overall decrease in demand for a product. The $63 million reduction in sugar sales by businesses would translate into total losses of 19,000 jobs, mostly in food and beverage retail stores, restaurants, and related establishments directly affected by the lost sales. However, many other industries would be indirectly affected, including wholesalers, transportation companies, and business-service providers, leading to a further reduction of 150-200 jobs. These jobs would be lost over the course of a year. Brian Rainville, spokesman for Teamsters Joint Council 25 in San Francisco, said the new tax would cut “good, middle-class jobs” that President Barack Obama said were key to economic recovery. A sugar tax implemented in Denmark that lasted less than a year cost the country an estimated 1,300 jobs, mainly due to a trimming of workers in food retail sectors.

3. Sugar taxes will harm the underprivileged and decrease the health of many in our country.

Taxes on sugary snacks lead many consumers to replace the taxed food with equally unhealthy foods. Poorer consumers react to higher food prices not by changing their diets but by consuming even fewer healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and eating more processed foods. For instance, taxes levied specifically on sugar content increase saturated fat consumption. Also, if these poorer consumers have to stop buying food with sugar in it and buy other processed foods, the Huffington Post calculates that it will cost them $550 more per year. If these families were to replace the sugary food with healthier food such as fruits and vegetables, it would cost them up to $1500 more!

4. If sugar taxes are implemented, many companies will use more harmful substitutes.

If sugar becomes too expensive but companies still need to sweeten their food or drink, they will turn to unhealthier substitutes for sugar. These include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and many more. These cause many more diseases and medical problems than sugar. The introduction of aspartame into the food supply of the United States began in the summer of 1981. Since that time, the incidence of Alzheimer’s deaths has increased 100 fold (10,000%). Autism has, with no explanation, increased 25 times (2500%). Autoimmune diseases have reached epidemic proportions, with Lupus (SLE) up 300%, and Multiple Sclerosis, Type II Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis headed out of control. Cancers, the hallmark of formaldehyde exposure, have exploded. Skin cancer has shot up over 400%, liver cancer has tripled, kidney cancer has doubled, and breast cancer is up 50%. Methanol, a poison hidden in aspartame and some other foods, is converted to formaldehyde at the very locations in the human body where these diseases originate. Judge, aspartame alone is causing many bad diseases and we obviously don’t want our citizens to get more diseases because of artificial sweeteners.


5. Taxing sugar is a bad way to lower obesity; there are better alternatives.

One alternative is to encourage people to exercise more and to increase their daily physical activity. This can be done through many medias such as clinics or classes. A tax will just discourage people and a class would teach them.  Keith Ayob, associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine agreed that food is not the only culprit for obesity. Instead, the focus should lie on restoring physical activity programs and offering incentives and tax breaks for those who implement healthy behaviors – what he called, "actions that reward good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior. "To solve the obesity crisis, people don't need more legislation, they need more motivation," he said. “In dealing with an obesity and public health crisis, the worst thing we can do is tell people not to have sugar, which is exactly what a sugar tax is telling consumers." Fergus Clydesdale, a food science professor says.