The governor’s proposed sugary drink tax can improve overall health and wellbeing. Sugary drinks are the single largest source of added sugar in our diets. Excessive consumption of these drinks can lead to chronic diseases that significantly harm communities. Policies that drive down consumption should be supported.
Framing this initiative as regressive doesn’t tell the whole story. Among Black and Latino communities, there is a disproportionately high rate of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases brought on, in part, by consuming too many sugary drinks.
It is no coincidence that these communities are highly targeted by the beverage industry. African-American children and teens see more than twice as many television ads for sugary drinks than their white peers. Food-related ads on Black-targeted and Spanish-language television continue to almost exclusively promote unhealthy food and drinks. An astounding eight out of 10 food ads seen by Hispanic children on Spanish-language television promote fast food, candy, sugary drinks, and snacks.
Everything we can do to discourage sugary drink consumption should be done. This measure will help decrease consumption, and the revenue can help support programs that benefit population health and wellness. It makes good sense.
Jose Ortiz is Chief Executive Officer of the Hispanic Health Council.
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