Author: Sorting Last Post on Top Message:
ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
2/15/14 4:36 P

'OP, how is it your business to dictate what others should and should not eat? This is at the core of my original post. '

Imposing a tax is the sincerest form of 'dictating what others should or should not eat' and so I'm with you there.

MissRuth, I don't live in TN,

This is what I found about SNAP food eligibility:

They did have a pilot program to encourage healthy food choices:

This pdf describes WIC food eligibility:

They already have a farmer's market program;


'For most of us at Sparkpeople and living in the real world---a cheese Danish daily is "over our allotment" based on our calorie needs...'

It's called a 'continental breakfast'!

Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 2/15/2014 (16:59)
MISSRUTH Posts: 4,125
2/15/14 4:13 P

I still think it comes back to nutritional education. IMO the tax proposals the op mentions are not practicable. In TN (where I live) there is no state income tax. The budgets of state & local governments, are based on sales tax revenues. The tax on food is now at 5% statewide (it was lowered gradually over the last couple years), PLUS the local city/county option of adding up to 2.75%. Some counties are lower, but most tax at the full 2.75% option, making the sales tax on food 7.75%. (For just about everything else, clothes, shoes, books, home goods etc it's a total of 9.75%) With the recession, sales tax revenues are down. Although it's not now as bad as it was a few years back-- I think you'd be hard pressed to find an elected official in TN willing to champion any further lowering of the tax on food at this time. No matter how bad the economy gets, people still have to spend money on food, and the state, county, city will get some money through sales taxes.

For an example of how difficult it is to try to set up some sort of incentive to purchase "healthy" food by excluding "unhealthy".... look at the SNAP program, and the attempts to remove soda and junk food from it. There are major corporations and food lobbies with a vested interest in soda and junk still being included in SNAP. Personally, I don't understand why SNAP can't be more like WIC, in that WIC has certain foods a person can buy and others that are not included.

2/15/14 4:02 P


For most of us at Sparkpeople and living in the real world---a cheese Danish daily is "over our allotment" based on our calorie needs...

However, as I think of those Olympic athletes burning 6000 plus calories daily---they maybe able to have 2.

I grew up on a farm and can remember those days of baling hay for 10 straight hours---there was homemade pie for dinner!---But then again the calories we expended was enormous.


MELO1968 SparkPoints: (330)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 111
2/15/14 3:42 P

" . . . . why would putting an extra sticker on a product containing added sugar make anyone not buy it? it's already on the ingredient list on the back of the package. so anyone that cares to avoid sugar is already reading that and not buying something that has added sugar.
. . . the fact of the matter is that most people don't actually care how many calories [or how much sugar] is in something. so labeling it is just a more obvious sticker for people to ignore"

YES! It is a fallacy that labels and signs somehow lead to compliance. Speed limit signs are ubiquitous, yet people routinely go over the speed limit. Forcing manufacturers to put labels on sugar-laden items is asinine. Come on, people----can nothing be left to personal responsibility? Are we treat everyone as if they were born yesterday, don't have a brain in their head, and have no clue as to how to Google information if they want it. Amazing.

Edited by: MELO1968 at: 2/15/2014 (15:47)
MELO1968 SparkPoints: (330)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 111
2/15/14 3:37 P

OP, how is it your business to dictate what others should and should not eat? This is at the core of my original post.

I mean no personal disrespect to you, but it drives me nuts when people try to poke their nose into others lives----now, down to what they eat. My goodness, where will it end???

If people just live and let live, the world would be a better place.

ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
2/15/14 3:32 P

Thanks for the link, DieticianBecky;

'If you think of your daily calorie needs as a budget, you want to “spend” most of your calories on “essentials” to meet your nutrient needs. Use only left over, discretionary calories for “extras” that provide little or no nutritional benefit, such as sugar.'

I interpret this to mean that - If I can fit in my nutrient needs, coming from various sources in a balanced diet, I can still have a Cheese Danish - if it doesn't push me over my calorie limit!

Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 2/15/2014 (15:35)
2/15/14 3:29 P

Regarding "added sugar", health organizations are putting out recommendations. Here is the American Heart Assoc's:

Your SP Registered Dietitian

ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
2/15/14 3:23 P

'concerning your question about whether it has been proven that sugar in moderation is harmful I would say it may depend on the person and on how you define moderation.'

'Moderation' doesn't have a definition here.

'But everyone is different in their tolerance levels for sugar and any other substances.'

And yet, taxing sugar would affect everyone who would want to buy something with sugar in it.

'The problem is that the standard of what constitutes moderation is often determined by "average consumption" rather than by effects on health and average consumption has hugely increased for sugars.'

'Often determined' doesn't mean much. 'average consumption' doesn't even mean much. The argument to tax people for consumption is pretty weak.

As long as the Food Pyramid (now called 'MyPlate') has a place for sugar, I will continue to indulge. Calories from sugar are called 'Empty calories' in the 'My Plate' scheme, and they have a place, along with beef fat, for example. Sugary drinks and sweets are even at the very top of the 'Healthy Eating Pyramid, ' (the Harvard revision of MyPlate) along with 'red meat, processed meat and butter, refined grains, white rice, bread and pasta, potatoes, sugary drinks and sweets, salt.'

At the top = 'eat sparingly'

But once again:
Has it been proven that even with moderation, sugar is bad for everyone?

Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 2/15/2014 (15:30)
MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 15,220
2/15/14 2:46 P

We have to pay taxes but we don't have to like them.

I seriously do know people who would go without food just to buy alcohol and cigarettes. There are probably those that would go without real food, just to buy sweet snacks. If they were heavily taxed.

I do eat sugar. And I believe that I have figured out how to moderate it. I should not be punished for eating sugar. Just because there are people that cannot control themselves around it.

I do like the idea of labeling the packages that there is a certain amount of added sugar.

HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,862
2/15/14 2:14 P

concerning your question about whether it has bee proven that sugar in moderation is harmful I would say it may depend on the person and on how you define moderation.
I had two chocolate truffles yesterday after not eating any sugar for several months. Not only do I believe that those did not hurt me at all, I know that they did not even interfere with my low-carb diet. But everyone is different in their tolerance levels for sugar and any other substances. Not everybody gets addicted to alcohol from occasional moderate drinking and some people can smoke an occasional cigarette and not get addicted to smoking. The same is true for prescription pain killers. The problem is that the standard of what constitutes moderation is often determined by "average consumption" rather than by effects on health and average consumption has hugely increased for sugars.

Edited by: HOUNDLOVER1 at: 2/15/2014 (14:16)
HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,862
2/15/14 2:06 P

First I want to thank everyone for participating in this thread. We have had some great and thoughtful responses and even the more passionate responses I'm thankful for because they allow us to truly explore what works and what does not work in our society.
I will admit that I'm neither politically active nor the best educated on many public policy issues. It looks like I overestimated the willingness of people to pay what I would consider a luxury tax.

Just out of curiosity I want to suggest a modification of the original suggestion to put a high tax on sugars.
I am also curious to find out what people think about the principle, whether it is practical, whether it is feasible, and also whether it could be passed as legislation at the state or federal level.
Let me start by establishing a few facts:
- We will always have to pay a significant amount of taxes, regardless of what political party is in power or what the exact details are and we will probably always have to pay more taxes than we would volunteer for.
- Everybody tries to some degree to minimize the taxes they have to pay through legal and sometimes illegal means
- Taxes have always been used by governments to pay for services that are needed (and sometimes for things that were not needed).
- Taxes codes of any country have always been written in a way that will reward/encourage some behaviors of it's citizens and punish/discourage others.
- Behavioral psychology has already established that positive reinforcement/reward works far better to change behavior than punishment.
- All taxes roughly fall into two categories: income taxes and consumer taxes.
Income is taxed when we get paid (more or less), consumer taxes are paid when we purchase something (this is admittedly oversimplified).
Consumer taxes come in many forms: sales tax, grocery tax, gasoline tax, tobacco tax, alcohol tax, various luxury item taxes etc.
It is not a matter of if we pay taxes but what we pay taxes for.
Many states already have a grocery tax. Here is the list:
Alabama, Arkansas (3%), Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois (1%), Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri (1.225%), Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee (5.5%), Utah (1.75%), Virginia (1.5% + 1% local option tax), and West Virginia (5%).
In these states it could be argued that foods that are healthy should not be taxed while other foods should be.
If we already have taxes in place that shape consumer habits and we want to reward rather than punish consumers then exempting things from tax rather than taxing additional items might work better.
But we still need some taxes to pay for services, although how much can be argued.
So maybe the answer would be a drastic reduction in income tax (because why should we be punished for working hard and making money) that would make up for consumer taxes and then make exemptions for those consumer items that are deemed essential and not in any way harmful to society as a whole. That would leave non-essential items to be taxed with a kind of "luxury tax" . If taxation is already rewarding some behaviors and punishing others we may as well reward behaviors that are healthy rather than those that are harmful.


Edited by: HOUNDLOVER1 at: 2/15/2014 (14:07)
ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
2/15/14 12:28 P

Moderation is the key here. Has it been proven that even with moderation, sugar is bad for everyone?

MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 15,220
2/15/14 11:04 A

The government will claim that it will use the taxes for one thing and then use it on something else.

They would claim that it would go to subsidizing healthy food for food deserts, but those folks would never see a dime. Or a fruit or vegetable.

I don't believe in taxing "sins" people will get them whether or not you tax them. And if they have to do without other food so that they can have their alcohol and cigarettes. I know people like this. They would never go without their alcohol and cigarettes. Even if it means they go without other food and get one bag of chips a day

Edited by: MANDIETERRIER1 at: 2/15/2014 (11:08)
GIPPER1961 Posts: 681
2/15/14 10:26 A

While I agree with the spirit of the proposal I think it would fail for a couple of reasons. First of all any form of control of the normal market is bound to fail (econ 101 for all f the reasons). if you tax sugar manufacturers will switch even more to HFCS. Add HFCS to the tax and they will begin switching to any one of the other compounds that are used for sweetening. it may take some time to reformulate, but it will happen I promise. Since government moves by design at a snails pace they will never keep up with the market.

Second, sugar or the other sweeteners has an addictive effect on most people. Addicts are never deterred by price increase. People mistakenly attribute taxes to the reason smoking has gone down. The problem is that the people that quit smoking are the people most able to pay the increase, the middle class and wealthy. The people least able to pay it continue to pay it. The vast majority of smokers are the poor and lower middle class.

It would help if the government and the NGO's that act as 'experts' would tell people the destructive nature of sugar as enthusiastically as they spread their anti-fat message. .

People being motivated to get healthy is the key. I wish I had a great idea how to do that wide spread

EELPIE Posts: 2,700
2/15/14 10:13 A

" Why should your problem with sugar, dictate *my* option to use a little sugar in my homemade spaghetti sauce? Why should your problem with sugar, dictate an exhorbitant expense for me to make the occasional batch of homemade ice cream for a treat? "


2/15/14 9:49 A

The history of sugar. An interesting read.

It's interesting to note that (after a quick Google search) the USA, China and India all have sugar reserves. Canada has a maple syrup reserve. Which to me means that sugars are very important to economic stability in said countries. I think implementing large taxes would have a profound negative effect on their economies.

I think my earlier suggestion of keeping prices low by subsidizing farmers to produce more fresh vegetables and fruits would be the best way to go.

MISSRUTH Posts: 4,125
2/15/14 9:29 A

Not much I could add to the argument, that hasn't already been said. The bottom line is, no matter how strongly you may feel that "it ought to be taxed".... it will never happen. And the biggest reason is because no one in their right mind is going to give *that* much power to the government, to tell us what we can and cannot do. (or in this case, eat)

Look at New York and the attempt to limit the size of sodas. Not even talking about all sugar or all food items with sugar in them. Just soda.

I read an article a while back about potential revisions to the nutrition labelling on food.... it mentioned how "low fat" was a big deal back when they came up with the labelling, and that's why there's so much fat info on the labels. And now they're kicking around the idea of breaking down "added sugars" on the labelling. That right there could be some really helpful information.

Beyond all that, there are (what I can see) as legitimate reasons to include some sugar in certain foods. A little bit will cut the acidity of tomato products in sauces, for example. Maybe you don't mind the acid taste with no added sugar, but I'm at a healthy weight and have no trouble whatsoever with my blood sugar. Why should your problem with sugar, dictate *my* option to use a little sugar in my homemade spaghetti sauce? Why should your problem with sugar, dictate an exhorbitant expense for me to make the occasional batch of homemade ice cream for a treat? There is absolutely nothing "wrong" with occasionally eating ice cream or chocolate or pie, as Becky mentioned. And it shouldn't cost 20 bucks to make a pie.

The problem isn't sugar or even HFCS. The bottom line problem is the choices people make. Tax the sugar and you set up a black market and you've still not affected people's choices. Raising the tax on cigarettes and alcohol hasn't got everybody to quit smoking or drinking. Tax pot all you want to... a certain segment of the population will pay whatever it costs. They just spend less on other things like clothes or eating out or food or health care or charity or whatever. By providing better information, easily available information, education on good nutrition (and IMO this is the key), a health care system accessible by the majority of the population-- perhaps then you can affect people's choices.

NIRERIN Posts: 13,440
2/15/14 8:53 A

okay russell, i have to ask. why would putting an extra sticker on a product containing added sugar make anyone not buy it? it's already on the ingredient list on the back of the package. so anyone that cares to avoid sugar is already reading that and not buying something that has added sugar.
remember all the fuss when chains started having to put calorie information with their foods in new york? it's not like that has hurt starbucks' or mcdonald's bottom line. the fact of the matter is that most people don't actually care how many calories [or how much sugar] is in something. so labeling it is just a more obvious sticker for people to ignore. i really think we get a skewed view of that kind of importance on the messageboards here at spark in particular. look at how many companies introduce better for you options and how soon they get taken out of production and off the menus. the amount of people that want and would use that information isn't a profitable amount. the fact of the matter is that the market responds to demand. and for as much as the few demand lighter and more veggie filled dishes they don't sell in the marketplace.
does anyone grab one cereal over another because of a whole grain/heart healthy/whatever other thing is in vogue sticker on it? no. the people that were already grabbing that cereal are just happy that their product has a good kid sticker on it now.

SHOOTINGSTAR12 SparkPoints: (30,873)
Fitness Minutes: (9,779)
Posts: 1,351
2/15/14 6:23 A

Just about everything has sugar so if you put a hug tax on sugar, be prepared to pay an even higher price on processed foods.

2/15/14 5:37 A

I didn't read all of the other replies, but I believe that we should stop subsidizing corn and things used to make products like HFCS and instead subsidize fruit and vegetables.

I am not sure about taxing as it doesn't stop people from buying alcohol and cigarettes. I think people would continue to buy sugar no matter the cost and instead stop purchasing other healthy foods if they have to cut that line item in the budget.

HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,862
2/15/14 2:45 A

Russell, I think with this statement you hit the nail on the head:

"Much easier for someone to tax something that does not affect them directly every single day. Tax sugar, and we would have riots. Tax pot, and people look down on those people anyways so it is okay."
We don't care if some potheads have to pay as long as we are not one of them.
It is unfortunately true that most people in this country consume lots of sugar and that it would be extremely unpopular to tax it for that reason alone.
The other issue, of people not wanting taxing of either cigarettes or alcohol or sugar is also true. I understand the distrust in government to do a good job with any of it. We have lots of evidence that they don't. Unfortunately some taxes are needed and we are all paying with our taxes for subsidies of unhealthy things. I'm all for lower taxes but think that people who, through their unhealthy lifestyles increase the cost of living for the rest of us should indeed pay. Our health care and medicare system is overburdened and it will only get worse unless people have very strong incentive to practice preventative health care through healthy eating and exercise. I believe this to be the case regardless of whether there is national health care or not. So if taxes are not a suitable incentive for people to stop eating too much junk then what does everyone suggest? Education alone will only reach those people who want to be educated. If sugar is indeed addictive than what motivation could people have to go through the painful withdrawal to give it up?

EELPIE Posts: 2,700
2/14/14 11:54 P

lol Russell :) yes i am biased, pot I don't care lungs can only take so much!!

But taxes proposed by someone who admittedly hardly uses the product to begin with....

Anyway, in PA a tax was once started for the best of intentions, relief.

Were still paying this tax:

Yeah, I guess it's a principle thing for me. And again..what's next?

I use 2 teaspoons of sugar a day. Economically, if you want to tax sugar by $100 per 10 pounds, it financially wouldn't impact me...but I bet it would a lot of others.

I do try to be fair.

I also don't try to push my morals down other's throats.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
2/14/14 11:39 P

I'm thinking that EELPIE might have a problem with taxing cigarettes, pot, or alcohol too.

You are assuming that if it okay to tax the other things, then taxing sugar is also okay.

Not everyone thinks taxing the other things is okay Birgit. As long as the argument is consistent, I have no problem with it. Either tax all 4, or tax none of them, but a lot of people don't think we should be taxing alcohol, pot, cigarettes, OR sugar. They have a problem with the government trying to push them into being healthier.

The idea that we started taxing alcohol, then cigarettes, and now pot, kind of backs up the argument that once you tax one " sin ", what is to stop all " sins " from being taxed. What if vegans seize control of the government, and decide meat is a " sin "? 1000 % tax on your steak... how would you like that? I know I wouldn't. I eat steaks that are over a lb. I would be

I think your heart is in the right place Birgit, but you aren't considering the abuse of that power, which has already been abused according to many people. How do you guarantee that once government starts taxing, they ever stop, or that they only tax things that you agree with?

There have been suggested taxes on sweets, and fast food over the years, and all have been turned down because we believe that individuals right to choose is important. The difference between pot, alcohol, and cigarettes versus sugar, is that almost everyone consumes added sugar, while their are large portions of our population who do not drink, or smoke anything.

Much easier for someone to tax something that does not affect them directly every single day. Tax sugar, and we would have riots. Tax pot, and people look down on those people anyways so it is okay. The problem is that a human being is making these decisions, and their focus may change when a new one comes along. It's different when you are the target.

EELPIE Posts: 2,700
2/14/14 11:22 P

Waaaay to much Big Brother for me. I have a brain.

Makes me nervous. I need less government in my life....not more.

I think Big Government is killing our country.

But that's a whole nother topic ;)

Edited by: EELPIE at: 2/14/2014 (23:23)
HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,862
2/14/14 11:12 P

How is it different from taxing alcohol or cigarettes or pot (in the those states where it is legal)? They are all things that are not healthy. Sugar consumption has hugely increased in this country at the same time that obesity and diabetes have hugely increased. Both obesity and diabetes increase the risk of heart disease and many other diseases. Sugar causes inflammation and is now known to be an independent risk factor for heart disease.
This is not about taking anyone's right away to consume sugar, only to make it easier to eat vegetables than to eat sugar. If we consumed small amounts of sugar rarely, maybe one piece of cake a month or one can of soda every other week then it would be a special treat. If we feel the need to consume it daily then the consequences to our health will have to be paid for by everyone.
As was mentioned earlier in this thread, in some poor neighborhoods candy and sugar-laded junk food is much easier to find than natural wholesome foods. If the cost of sugar were higher (and how much higher is up for discussion) that money could go to making healthy foods available to low-income people who can't afford them right now.

Currently our government is subsidizing unhealthy foods like corn. Would it not be better for everyone if vegetables were affordable for everyone and the consumption of sugar were considered a luxury, something to be consumed for very special occasions rather than daily.

Edited by: HOUNDLOVER1 at: 2/14/2014 (23:15)
EELPIE Posts: 2,700
2/14/14 10:58 P

So you want to tax sugar in all forms? Sorry, I just don't get it.

What's next?

What happens after sugar? Fat? Then processed carbs?

I would never think about punishing someone who ate differently than me.

I believe in education and letting people make informed decisions about food.

HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,862
2/14/14 9:50 P

Lots of interesting input so far. I just want to clarify the issue of maple syrup and raw honey. I would not personally object to having them taxed as well, but they are different in that they contain more than just calories and can be beneficial in small quantities in the same way that medication is beneficial in small quantities. I personally would never have more than a tablespoon or so in a day, and even that rarely.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
2/14/14 9:48 P

I think more people have a problem with sugar, than they do with wheat or soy, yet we make manufacturers label them. As the nation becomes more and more diabetic, I think letting them know about sugar ADDED to their food is just as important.

MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 15,220
2/14/14 9:46 P

If they tax sugar, then I will start selling it out of the trunk of my car. Oh wait I have a hatchback. Well you get the idea.

I agree with Iced Meter prohibition teaches us what happens when the government outlaws or taxes something people really like.

I like and use real sugar. I don't preach against people using artificial sugar if that's what they prefer. The government should stay out of my kitchen.

Edited by: MANDIETERRIER1 at: 2/14/2014 (21:54)
EELPIE Posts: 2,700
2/14/14 9:44 P

Russell, I like your idea of the added sugar label.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
2/14/14 9:35 P

I do have to agree with the government subsidizing vegetables. they already do this with certain staples to make them cheaper, which is why we have generic cereal. We could make vegetables, and fruit cheaper, and then people could choose to eat them more often . These fruits and vegetables are desirable on any diet, so like cereal, is a major staple of our diets, or would be, if we could afford them.

As far as punitive efforts, prohibition obviously doesn't work, although like crack, sugar is killing us. People aren't willing to admit that it is as dangerous as hard drugs. So it may be mildly " addictive ", as in it causes you to want more, and people can't turn it down, but not sure if taxes is the way to go here. I understand the tax would be to pay for the subsidy, but since sugar is causing so many health problems, wouldn't just making vegetables, and fruit more likely to be eaten help with health costs? If we saved 10 % on our health care costs nationwide, the subsidies would pay for themselves.

The only thing I wish the government did to block sugar, was to be more forceful on their message. Like cigarettes, they should come with a label, and it should say that it is mildly addictive, or whatever way they choose to describe people's inability to stop consuming foods that have it. That, and just letting people know that sugar was added.

Other than reminding people how harmful a substance it is, they won't do much. They can bleach nicotine out of cigarette tobacco, but just put a label on it, instead, telling us that nicotine is addictive. If they removed the nicotine, no one would smoke. They choose not to do so, so them removing sugar from manufacturers ( banning manufacturers from using it ), isn't any more likely to happen.

I would be interested to see if the warnings worked as well as the cigarette ones. Even just a warning, like.. " This product contains added sugar ". My onion powder has to have a warning that it may contain wheat, soy, or milk, since some people are allergic.

Most people know sugar is bad, and if they had a label letting them know added sugar was in these foods, they could avoid them. A cake is obvious, but added sugar in a loaf of bread is not suspected by many people, who think of bread as healthy, which it may be, but not with added sugar/honey.

So my vote would be to let people know if there is added sugar, and let them choose as adults, and to subsidize fruits, and veggies enough to make sure people can afford to eat 10+ servings a day if they want to. Other than that, Birgit, I am sure the government would mess it up, and we would just have higher taxes, and not be any healthier.

In the end, the average person is smarter, than the entire 535 members of Congress combined. After all, they created the diet we eat today, and have contributed to the rise in sugar consumption, with the low fat diet they created in the 70's. Why ask the same body to regulate the problem? Let people have the information they need, and the ability to afford the healthy foods they need, and then it is up to them to make the right choices.

Edited by: RUSSELL_40 at: 2/14/2014 (21:40)
BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,410
2/14/14 8:42 P

"I don't see anything wrong with governments subsidizing fresh healthy vegetables and fruits just as they do corn and soy. Anything that encourages farmers to grow and people to eat more real fresh food is a good thing IMO."

This - would be awesome.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,410
2/14/14 8:38 P

"if sugar were indeed a food I could see your point. But it is more of an additive substance IMO and therefore no different from cocaine, heroin, and other highly addictive substances."

Oh well, I gotta disagree with you there.

I would never fear dabbling with refined sugar on the chance that I could become addicted to it. I would not say the same for heroin or cocaine.

The effect refined sugar has on the body is really not substantially and qualitatively different than the effect that maple syrup or honey, yet you specifically exempted these. Why?

As another poster pointed out, the same negative attributes of sugar (on health, on triggering-cravings) could be said about white bread, pasta and rice. So why single out "sugar" as if it were the only troublesome "food" product?

Refined sugar IS actually food... sugar occurs naturally in dairy, fruit, vegetables... "refining" these foods is essentially just stripping away the fibre and other elements until only a sugary syrup remains, then letting it evaporate and crystallize. The process is a bit more diabolical in the case of HFCS, you *really* have to work at it, to wrestle the sugar out of corn... but nevertheless, my point is, sugar is a component of many natural fresh foods. That said, *people eat way to damn much of it* - it's just so easy and convenient when you can buy straight-up sugar by the bagful, rather than have to gnaw through a fibrous slab of pineapple to suck out your "sugar fix." And it's mixed into processed foods to make otherwise poor-quality food taste like something - a practice that ticks me off to no end. But while I do not like the manner in which sugar is consumed in the modern day, I stop short of calling it "not food" and "equivalent to heroin."

Edited by: BUNNYKICKS at: 2/14/2014 (20:39)
2/14/14 8:35 P

I don't see anything wrong with governments subsidizing fresh healthy vegetables and fruits just as they do corn and soy. Anything that encourages farmers to grow and people to eat more real fresh food is a good thing IMO.

Alcohol is pretty heavily taxed here in Canada and I don't care because I don't drink. I think far too many people are addicted to sugar to have that happen anytime soon.

Why are maple syrup and honey exempt? They may be a more "natural" sugar it's still sugar nonetheless.

Edited by: JUSTEATREALFOOD at: 2/14/2014 (20:40)
HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,862
2/14/14 7:56 P

if sugar were indeed a food I could see your point. But it is more of an additive substance IMO and therefore no different from cocaine, heroin, and other highly addictive substances. I did not say that sugar should be criminalized, only asking whether people think it should be taxed the way alcohol and cigarettes already are.
As far as the jobs that would be lost if less sugar is produced, those jobs could go towards vegetable farming.
Here is a link that talks about sugar in detail from a scientific perspective.


MELO1968 SparkPoints: (330)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 111
2/14/14 7:30 P

I agree with what most of the others have posted. Actually, it ticks me off when people suggest such things: Who are you to tell others how they should eat? It smacks of self-righteousness. And please don't give me that garbage about healthcare costs. If we go there, then that gives people license to get into the minutia of people's everyday lives, and liberty is lost. Why not just mandate that everyone get up and exercise every morning---Oh, wait, didn't Big Brother do that in 1984? Once you violate the principal by allowing government to tax so-called "bad" foods, the door is open for them to tax food in general.

Sorry, OP, but neither you [nor I] have any business punishing others for their eating habits or any other legal activity.

Edited by: MELO1968 at: 2/14/2014 (19:32)
ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,181
2/14/14 3:53 P

I think it's an absolutely atrocious idea.

First of all, this is just a step towards "prohibition" - and we can check current stats to see just how well that worked to get folks to stop using alcohol. Are you planning on having special police forces to bust in on people growing untaxed sugar beets in their gardens?

Secondly, it gives far too much control to the government over individual food / risk choices. Should they also start taxing "extreme" athletic activities more, as well?

Thirdly, it would destroy a currently healthy agricultural business (with lots of employees and dependents) and create a very healthy black-market version of that business (with all of the attendant problems), while not creating any kind of other employment opportunities for those displaced.

Finally, I guess I'm the last to know that "the stuff is bad for us, even in moderation". I've seen some good science showing that extreme excess has potential for causing health problems, but haven't seen anything that convinces me that a modest amount is going to kill me.

Anyone who strongly feels that it is a danger to them already has the power to "vote with their dollars" and spend their money on your ideally organic fresh vegetables. Personally, I want to continue to support my local organic veggie growers, and also continue to add a bit of sugar to my tea or to my baking when I choose to, without getting all stressed out about whether the government is going to step in and start making my life more complicated and difficult --- don't we all know that stress is bad for us?

EELPIE Posts: 2,700
2/14/14 3:52 P

Now, I don't know the exact history, but I heard it was the lobbyists for corn farmers that got sugar prices increased via tarriffs here, which is why the soda manufacturers switched to HFC.

That's the reason it's being used here in the states and no where else.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,410
2/14/14 3:46 P

Rather than punitive taxes on the things that are "bad for us" it would be nice to see some positive economic incentives to make it easier to obtain the things that are "good for us."

I find it very frustrating that the production of a lot of things that are "bad for us" are HEAVILY subsidized (there's a reason most north-american processed foods are sweetened with HFCS - it's because it's cheap because it comes from corn, which is one of the most highly subsidized crops in the USA).

This article articulates the point I'm trying to make, more clearly than I can:

"For a dollar, Adam Drewnow­ski and S. E. Specter could purchase 1,200 calories of potato chips or cookies or just 250 calories worth of carrots. It was merely one example of how an unhealthy diet is cheaper than a healthy one. This price difference did not spring into existence by force of any natural laws but largely because of antiquated agricultural policies. Public money is working at cross-purposes: backing an overabundance of unhealthful calories that are flooding our supermarkets and restaurants, while also battling obesity and the myriad illnesses that go with it. It is time to align our farm policies with our health policies."

CLARK971 SparkPoints: (29,626)
Fitness Minutes: (23,524)
Posts: 827
2/14/14 3:21 P

I vote no.

Dragonchilde makes some great points-"This won't solve the obesity problem. Sugar isn't the problem, overconsumption, access, lack of education, and poor (or no) health care IS."

I also think that perhaps part of the problem is people move less. We used to get up to change the tv channel, go into the bank instead of online banking. We used to have to get up and walk over to answer a phone. I wonder how many calories I burn in day to day activities compared to my mom a generation ago.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (58,681)
Fitness Minutes: (14,252)
Posts: 9,692
2/14/14 3:07 P

Are we also going to tax simple carbs, like processed white bread and pasta? After all, they're pretty much the same thing. All that will do is remove options from the people who can least afford to give that up. People who live in food deserts would find themselves priced out of sugar, and will simply move to the next easy-to-fix, cheap meal. Pasta, bread, chips, etc.

This won't solve the obesity problem. Sugar isn't the problem, overconsumption, access, lack of education, and poor (or no) health care IS.

We tax the mess out of alcohol and cigarettes, and all that's done is nudge out the budget for healthy foods in favor of the addiction.

Let adults make their own choices, and let's focus on solving the problem and increasing access to education and support... not turning into a nanny state to punish the poor for wanting a cookie.

Edited by: DRAGONCHILDE at: 2/14/2014 (15:08)
DIDS70 Posts: 5,368
2/14/14 3:02 P

the government is in my pocket enough and i want them out as it is. If I choose to eat twinkies, hoho's and other things that are in the same arena as an adult that is my choice. I don't need the government telling me what I can and can't eat and with such a tax you are giving them that ability.

technically there is nothing wrong with sugar. It is just that people have taken it to the extreme. their choice.
I also can't see the government ever parting with money like that to give to an organic farmer.

HISTORYRUNNER SparkPoints: (2,866)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 400
2/14/14 2:40 P

Since the federal government spends hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize cheap wheat, corn, and soybeans, it would be consistent with current practice to have the state intervene into the food market to increase the public good.

So, I would support such a tax. To me it falls in the same category as taxing cigarettes, as both tobacco and sugar and HFC, etc. have been proven to be dangers to public and personal health, which winds up costing us all heavily in the form of avoidable medical costs and lost productivity.

I would also add that the revenues ought to be used to both support (organic) vegetable and fruit production, but also to provide financial incentives/rewards to make these products available at low cost to broad sectors of the population, especially those who lack access to healthy food already (re. the "urban food deserts" mentioned earlier in this thread).

2/14/14 2:11 P

This is one issue that I stand firmly on the personal accountability side. You control what you eat. If we as consumers don't buy the highly processed sugar filled foods then the food manufacturers will have to reconsider what they make.

HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,862
2/14/14 2:07 P

Is processed sugar food or fake food?

EELPIE Posts: 2,700
2/14/14 2:00 P

Ok - in that case, no way :)

Some people don't eat like I do (and I can afford to eat this way), and more expensive food could just devastate them financially.

Some people live on such tight budgets already. I think of people struggling to put food on the table now....

And it would even make the plight of those living in urban food deserts worse, I think.

HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,862
2/14/14 1:50 P

thanks for giving me the chance to clarify. I meant all processed sugars, that would include table sugar, HFCS, agave nectar, beet sugar, corn syrup, cane sugar, pretty much anything that has glucose or fructose in it and is processed. Only real maple syrup and raw honey would be excluded.

2/14/14 1:48 P

I could debate either side honestly.
But personal...I say no tax.
I am an adult. As an adult I can make the appropriate decisions for myself and my health, and the health of my children. I don't need the government to tell me "what" to do; or penalize me for making pie on occasion and enjoying a piece.

Your SP Registered Dietitian

EELPIE Posts: 2,700
2/14/14 1:47 P

I dunno...the U.S. soda's are HFC based now instead of sugar because of costs. So, I'm assuming more foods would be made with HFC instead of sugar?

I don't do HFC...if I were to have a soda I try to find the ones with real sugar..Pepsi throwback (used to sell it, I've not bought soda in years).

I've a friend who lives in Australia and bought Heinz ketchup, but it was shipped from here in the U.S. (it's normally not), and used HFC instead of sugar and she threw it out. She couldn't believe American ate it. Canadian Heinz is made with sugar as well.

I'd prefer sugar over HFC anyday.

Edited by: EELPIE at: 2/14/2014 (13:51)
HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,862
2/14/14 1:38 P

We all know the stuff is bad for us, even in moderation.
This is what I would suggest (and I know this is not realistic to happen any time soon):
To tax any kind of processed sugar 1000%, both buying it directly as a consumer (by the pound) and also for producers who use it for making processed foods that have sugar added, and to use the money to subsidize fresh vegetables (ideally organic).

The reason is, in short, that everyone agrees that sugar is bad for us and everyone agrees that vegetables are good for us. The price for sugar would probably be at least $10 per pound and the price of fresh vegetables would come down to where they should be affordable even for people on low incomes.
Sugar would be unaffordable for about half the population or would have to be consumed in very small quantities. The rich would of course be able to indulge themselves to their hearts content, but they are doing that with drugs of any kind as well and most people are not jealous about that.
So I want to throw this suggestion out there and I'm hoping to get more than just a "yes" or "no".
What are the reasons you would see to tax sugar as I suggested, tax it even higher, tax it lower or not tax it at all?


Edited by: HOUNDLOVER1 at: 2/14/2014 (13:41)
Page: 4 of (4)   « First Page ‹ Previous Page 2 3 4

Other Diet and Nutrition Topics:

Topics: Last Post:
Are berries really important to a diet? 2/18/2015 10:57:50 AM
Splenda 4/22/2015 7:47:21 AM
is there a caloire cooked & uncooked pasta 7/22/2015 6:24:12 PM
logging nutrition 3/15/2015 6:57:44 AM
Confused fitbit vs spark 6/24/2015 2:58:13 PM