Chicago is considering a tax on sugary drinks (PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP/Getty Images)

Letters Monday: Why a sugar tax works

SHARE Letters Monday: Why a sugar tax works
SHARE Letters Monday: Why a sugar tax works

Over the past several decades, the world has become increasingly aware of the role of added sugar, particularly in beverages, as a major factor linked with of increased weight gain, diabetes, and many other health problems as well as dental caries. The World Health Organization, most international cancer societies and the American Heart Association are among the many global organizations that call for major regulatory efforts to reduce consumption of added sugar, particularly from beverages.

Why beverages: we have learned that when we consume a beverage — be it water, tea, coffee or caloric ones such as soft drinks and fruit drinks, we do not reduce our food intake to compensate for this. There is a very large body of literature that has created a consensus that reducing intake of caloric beverages rich in added sugar is critical to help prevent not only obesity but many other diet-related noncommunicable diseases.

In addition, we have learned and created a global consensus that reducing added sugar, even from food, will enhance our health.

Over 60 percent of Americans age two and over consume double the calories from added sugar the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association recommends. Half of this is from beverages. It has been seen that reducing this added sugar, particularly from beverages, is the simplest and one of the most important single way to prevent both child and adult excessive weight gain.

In Mexico we learned that even a small tax of 10 percent will reduce for Mexicans their caloric intake from soft drinks and increase their water and other healthier beverage intake. The United Kingdom is currently considering a 20-30 percent soft drink tax as a critical way to reduce obesity and all the health complications associated both with added sugar and obesity.

Chicago faces one of the higher rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in the U.S. Its citizens need an improved diet. By instituting a tax of 1-2 cents per ounce on soft drinks of all kinds (energy, fruit, sports and soft drinks), this will help the health of Chicago’s children and all others.

Barry M. Popkin,Professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

SEND LETTERS (Please include the name of your neighborhood or suburb, and a phone number for verification.)

Chicago trash pickup isn’t “free”In your article “Cash for Trash” about the city charging for garbage collection, it was stated that we are now getting it “for free.” I suppose that our property tax which pays for the Department of Streets and Sanitation doesn’t cost as anything? I would imagine that a property tax increase would be more acceptable (or less onerous?) to taxpayers than another fee and the creation of a new bureaucracy to handle the fee collection.Mario Caruso,Lincoln SquareCritical services for smoking cessation at risk

Tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable death in our country, killing 18,300 people in Illinois and nearly half a million people nationally each year.

However,crucial services for smokers who want help to quit are in jeopardy. The state budget impasse means that the Illinois Tobacco Quitline remains at risk of closing for the second time this year. If the service is forced to shut down, Illinois will be the only state in the nation without a Quitline.

According to the American Lung Association, the Illinois Tobacco Quitline received 95,000 calls in 2014, many from Medicaid recipients or people without health coverage. Operating the Quitline costs a relatively inexpensive $3.1 million a year, while smoking-related illness costs the Illinois Medicaid program $1.9 billion a year. You’d be hard pressed to find a more effective and efficient program at any level of government.

State and local governments should be doing all they can to encourage and help smokers to quit and keep kids from starting. Initiatives like last week’s “Nobody Quits Like Chicago” are a start. Calls to the Quitline increased after last year’s smoking cessation week in Chicago, all the more reason to ensure that this vital resource remains open.

We urge state lawmakers to secure funding for this proven cessation service. It is an effective strategy and a good investment that saves lives and money. Let’s prove to the country that nobody quits like Illinois!

Matthew L. Myers,President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

How about a progressive income tax?

Mayor Emanuel will further burden the middle-class with more taxes and ‘fees,’ for services we are already being taxed on. Unfortunately, for us, neither Emanuel nor Gov. Bruce Rauner won’t even consider generating new revenue by introducing a progressive tax which would tax the non-paying 1 percent and corporations. For several years now corporations have been making “record” profits, use loopholes to not pay taxes, and on top of that, they receive billions in “corporate welfare.” The 1 percent also use shyster lawyers to find and use loopholes to keep them from paying their fair-share of taxes, while they gouge the middle class and poor with more taxes and fees….I don’t know who is worse, but I do know both are part of the 1 percent and are more concerned about protecting them — than us.Ann Gutierrez,Tinley Park

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