HOW SWEET IS MY SOFT DRINK?
We are increasingly living in obesogenic environments. While urbanization and modern transport have reduced the amount of energy expenditure, increasing access to high calorie food and intense marketing of carbonated “soft drinks” coupled with customary preference for sweets, have sparked a global epidemic in diabetes, overweight and cardiovascular diseases.9 To put it in real terms, do we know that drinking a cola bottle is equivalent to consuming more than 10 spoons full of sugar? I can’t even imagine what that would feel like! To know for yourself, check out guide- “How Sweet Is It?” developed by the researchers at the Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which tells you the amount of sugar and calories present in soda, juice, sports drinks and other popular beverages.6
HOW DOES IT AFFECT MY HEALTH?
As these beverages have very high amounts of artificial sugar with almost zero nutritional value, we have strong evidence to explain the role that Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) are playing in growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes.8 Some glaring evidence on health risks associated with SSBs has been listed below:
WHAT IT DOES TO MY POCKET?
While communicating public health risks of SSBs may be a challenging task, the use of economic modelling can be an alternative method to improve our understanding of the very “real” risks that SSBs pose to our lives-
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY COLA BOTTLE IS TAXED?
Before the start of 2020, nearly 42 countries around the world and 7 cities in the United States had implemented taxes on artificially sweetened drinks/SSBs to a varying extent.5 Mexico being a popular example, passed a resolution in 2014 for an excise tax of 1 peso per liter on non-dairy and non-alcoholic beverages with added sugar (Soft Drinks). This was 10% price increase for cola compared to the previous year price. Additionally, 8% tax ad valorem was applied on “junk food” with an energy density of 275 Kcal/100g. Moreover, another resolution was passed by the senate to use the revenue generated for obesity prevention programs in Mexico. The above tax regulation was preceded by a National Public Health Campaign for minimizing consumption of artificially sweetened beverages. An exemplar strategy used for spreading awareness and formally lobbying within the policy circles, included an Intensive exposure to messages through Public Service Advertisements highlighting the amount of free sugar- that was being consumed for every bottle of cola. This campaign was called “12 spoonsful of sugar”.
Results: Effects on Purchases
Results: Effects on Weight & Diabetes
WHAT CAN WE DO TO PROTECT OUR HEALTH?
In addition to taxing carbonated soda drinks and artificially sweetened juices, some complimentary strategies could be the following.
Conclusively, governments can play a critical role in creating a healthy food environment which generates demand for improved dietary behaviours resulting into better nutritional outcomes for the population. Policy institutions overseeing the mandate for food and nutrition security have a duty to enable people to adopt and maintain healthy dietary practices and are equally well positioned to incentivize all the other stakeholders in the supply chain. And as Gandhi once said, “Be The Change You Wish To See”. So next time, you wish to buy your favorite soft drink – think twice!!