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    In The News: A Soda Tax?

    Over in San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom is toying with the idea of imposing an anti-obesity tax on stores selling foods and beverages containing high-fructose corn syrup.

    Although I understand what he is attempting to achieve, I believe Mayor Newson is going about this the wrong way.

    Sweetened drinks undoubtedly add extra calories to anyone’s day, but I have a problem with foods being automatically branded as “bad” or “evil,” regardless of context.

    I don’t think the problem to tackle is soda itself as it is the ridiculous amounts of it people are used to drinking.

    Between unlimited refills, 20 ounce to-go bottles, and 64 ounce containers at 7-11, it is perfectly feasible to accompany any given meal with as much as 1,000 liquid calories!

    And while high fructose corn syrup is a dirt cheap man-made sweetener that is metabolized differently than real sugar (for one, it does not trigger our brain’s satiety center when consumed), eliminating it will not decrease an obesity problem.

    I have seen the graphs showing a correlation between high fructose corn syrup intake and rising obesity rates in the United States, but it is important to point out that increased high fructose corn syrup intake was also accompanied by exploding portion sizes and easier availability of sugar and fat-laden foods.

    It makes much more sense to attribute weight gain to extra calories in the form of more food (larger portions).

    Remember, high fructose corn syrup delivers just as many calories as any other sugar (fructose, honey, or table sugar) per teaspoon.

    I would hate for people to think that products made with real sugar automatically get a free pass.

    A Starbucks Venti vanilla latte accompanied by a banana chocolate-chip muffin adds up to over 1,000 calories and as much added sugar as a can of Coke.

    High fructose syrup might be missing from the equation, but that does not make this “meal” healthier or waist-friendly.

    A better initiative would be to help convenience stores (particularly those in low-income neighborhoods) offer healthier items (as attempted by New York City’s Healthy Bodega initiative).

    What do you think?

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