Opinion

A government right to buy soft drinks?

From an editorial Tuesday in the Sacramento Bee:

Last summer, a study out of Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco found that nearly 700,000 Americans would be saved from obesity or Type 2 diabetes during the next decade if the federal government made just one tiny change.

Stop letting people buy sugary soft drinks with food stamps.

That’s it. Nothing complicated. Nothing fancy. Just acknowledge, as we have with tobacco, that sugary soda encourages wildly expensive public health problems, so, no, we’re not going to use tax dollars to encourage its consumption.

The suggestion went nowhere.

The reason has to do with political influence. Beverage manufacturers and corn growers profit from the sale of sugary sodas and the high-fructose corn syrup that makes them so fattening, and they have powerful lobbies to make sure Americans, rich and poor, continue to drink up.

Soda manufacturers and their allies have argued, among other things, that if sugary soft drinks can’t be bought with food stamps – formally known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program throughout the country – then the government is somehow discriminating against the poor.

That’s nonsense.

At some point, though, there will be no escaping the mounting evidence.

Sugary soft drinks, like cigarettes, are harmful to our health in costly ways. And most of us, rich or poor, are fine with doing something about that.

It’s not complicated. It’s not fancy. It’s just a fact.

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