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AMA: American Medical Association Mulls Soda Tax

Tax dollars would be used to fight obesity

MONDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- Delegates at the American Medical Association House of Delegates meeting in Chicago are considering a report from AMA's board of trustees that suggests the association push for a small tax on sugar-sweetened sodas in an effort to raise money to help prevent and treat obesity.

Of all the resolutions discussed in the public health committee, this one caused the most heated debate. While most delegates who spoke believed that sugar-sweetened sodas contribute to obesity and have no nutritional value, many thought a tax was the wrong approach to the problem.

Those supporting the tax compared sugar-sweetened soda to tobacco and alcohol, two products linked to major health problems that are taxed.

Several delegates questioned whether a small tax would reduce soda consumption. Citing the misuse of tobacco settlement money, they also said there was no guarantee that the money from the tax would be used to treat obesity. Others said they felt the makers of soda should take more responsibility for the health consequences of their products.

But the majority of those who spoke against the tax proposal thought it could be the top of a slippery slope. If soda is taxed, what would be next, they said, a tax on inactivity or sugar itself or other bad health behaviors?

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