LOS ANGELES—The American Medical Assn. voted Wednesday at its annual meeting to adopt a policy that recognizes soda taxes as one way to pay for antiobesity programs, and that says any such tax revenue should go to programs to treat obesity and related conditions.
“While there is no silver bullet that will alone reverse the meteoric rise of obesity, there are many things we can do to fight this epidemic and improve the health of our nation,” AMA board member Dr. Alexander Ding said in a statement. “Improved consumer education on the adverse health effects of excessive consumption of beverages containing added sweeteners should be a key part of any multifaceted campaign to combat obesity.”
In its statement, the AMA noted that studies have shown sugar-sweetened beverages to be “strongly and consistency associated with increased body weight and a number of health conditions like type 2 diabetes.” Sugar-sweetened beverages account for about 46 percent of Americans’ added sugar intake.
“Where taxes are implemented on sugar-sweetened beverages, using revenue for anti-obesity programs and educational campaigns explaining the adverse effects of excessive consumption of these beverages will help to reduce the consumption of these caloric beverages and improve public health,” Ding said.
The AMA is holding its annual meeting in Chicago this week. Proposals at previous AMA annual meetings about taxes on sugary beverages failed.
The American Beverage Assn., an industry group, issued a statement saying it supports efforts to reduce obesity, but funding such programs with a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks is “discriminatory” and “misguided.”
“The body of science proves, and real world evidence demonstrates, that taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages will not have a meaningful impact on obesity. History also shows that revenues from existing soda taxes are not being used to improve public health. Americans can't trust that new taxes would be used any differently,” the beverage group said in its statement.