PEOPLE LOVE THEIR SODA
Holy carbonated beverages Batman. When we enthusiastically applaud the fact that every man, woman, and child in America is "only" drinking 5,200 ounces of soda per year (81 gallons), something is darn drastically wrong with our society. Because of the health-related problems associated with consuming this much soda, there have been any number of ideas kicked around to further curb these numbers, including increased taxes. The thought process behind increasing government taxation on sweetened beverages (mostly this means soda, although it could be your Starbucks, your McDonald's shake, or any of hundreds of other products) is that it's been used with other things like CIGARETTES. In other words, bad behavior will be punished by taxes so high that many Americans (the hope is most Americans) will decide to bail on said habits. It sounds kind of warm and fuzzy, but government policies seem to have a way of not working out as planned.
When I Googled "have cigarette taxes curbed smoking?," I received a wide array of answers, the majority of which argued that it had not. In fact, there was even an article in the New York Post from last year (The Great Cigarette Tax Lie) that stated, "On the contrary, in tandem with a tobacco advertising ban, higher taxes have made teen smoking cooler than ever. In fact....." And let's face it; when the government has taxed other things in similar fashion (gambling for instance) the money rarely ends up going where it was promised (HEALTHCARE, education, law enforcement, etc). Or if it does so initially, it winds up getting pilfered AS SEEN IN THIS ONE MINUTE VIDEO.
Because the under-25 crowd gets the majority of their calories from soda and other sugary drinks (HERE), the government's desire is to tax said products out of existence (so riddle me this; why can you buy these and similar products with Food Stamps? ANSWER FOUND HERE). Just two short days ago, the open source medical journal PLoS One published a study by researchers from the University of São Paulo, University of Bristol, Imperial University of London, and St. Louis Missouri's own Washington University School of Medicine, called Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Response to the Global Obesity Crisis. After spending time discussing the severity of the obesity and diabetes epidemics as related to "sugary drinks," the authors admitted that as to increasing the taxes on them, "the effectiveness of these interventions is still emerging." Here are the rest of the author's cherry-picked conclusions.
"ASBs (artificially sweetened beverages) are marketed as healthy alternatives to SSBs (sugar-sweetened beverages). The potential benefits from ASBs rely on the assumption that they elicit no energy compensation [zero calories]. However, there are long-standing concerns that ASBs may trigger compensatory mechanisms, which could offset a reduction in energy and sugar intake provided by their replacement of SSBs. Systematic reviews of observational studies indicate that ASB intake is positively associated with increased body mass index in both children and adults and to cardiometabolic disease risk (e.g., type 2 diabetes and stroke). More recently published data suggest that artificial sweeteners may contribute to the development of glucose intolerance by altering the composition and functions of gut microbiota. The absence of evidence to support the role of ASBs in preventing weight gain and the lack of studies on other long-term effects on health strengthen the position that ASBs should not be promoted as part of a healthy diet. Far from helping to solve the global obesity crisis, characteristics related to ASB composition makes them a potential risk factor for highly prevalent chronic diseases."
Not surprisingly, the authors went on to talk about study bias, saying that for the most part the numerous studies showing health benefits of swapping out regular soda with diet soda are being done by groups funded by (drum roll please) THE SUGAR INDUSTRY, which is (as stated by the authors) going out of its way to hide this fact. Furthermore, the paragraph above, both raises and answers some intriguing questions in one fell swoop; the biggest being how can a product that has no sugar and no calories be associated with STROKES, OBESITY, CARDIOMETABOLIC SYNDROME, DIABETES, GLUCOSE INTOLERANCE / INSULIN RESISTANCE, and other "CHRONIC DISEASES"? The answer, folks, is not only right there in front of your face, it's in your Gut and all over your body as well. As always, it's all about your MICROBIOME.
If you are interested in at least skimming titles, I have provided you A LINK to the articles I've written on this very topic, with the peer-reviewed studies showing that in many cases, people drinking diet beverages gain as much as twice as much weight (mostly in the form of BELLY FAT) as those drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (Gulp!).