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Health and Sanity

Rashmi Vasudeva
Features writer on health, lifestyle and the Arts, digital marketing blogger, mother
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piqer: Rashmi Vasudeva
Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Will Taxing Sodas Help Win The War Against Sugar?

I have been a keen listener of Gastropod for a while now. This is a podcast that happily delivers exactly what it promises – a concoction of food, science and history – nicely peppered with wit and anecdotes. Hosted by Cynthia and Nicola, classmates and multi-media journalists, Gastropod has had many fascinating forays into everything food and the many ways it is interlinked with cultural histories and scientific progress. I have immensely enjoyed their episodes on eggs, mangoes and cheese, as well as some of their detours such as the episode on the history of feeding armies or the one about the role our female ancestors played in providing their communities with food.

Their latest episode is a two-part look at one of the biggest debates around food today—exactly how to tackle the worldwide excess consumption of sugar. The second part is yet to go on air.

Even conservative estimates put our sugar consumption at way beyond our need. Children are especially vulnerable. Julie Mennell, a researcher, in fact, calls children ‘sugar fiends’ and says that, regrettably, an American child is more likely to eat a sweet than a fruit on any given day. This unfortunately is true of children of other countries as well. But because sugar is all-pervasive (it is a crucial ingredient in all processed foods whether they are sweet or savory), it has become quite impossible to keep away from it. So what is the solution? The hosts wonder if it is possible to make it less attractive by rendering it more expensive. Would a tax on sodas do the trick?

A suggestion to that effect way back in 2009 began, what the podcast calls, ‘soda wars’. The hosts take a deep look at how the evidence piled up against sodas and how the soda companies launched a counter-battle. Especially of interest is the part about persuasive advertising that has managed to link sodas with happiness and teen coolness. For those who have followed the strategies of Big Tobacco, this must ring several bells. 

Will Taxing Sodas Help Win The War Against Sugar?
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