What’s white or brown and may increase your risk of a variety of chronic diseases? The answer is sugar. Consumption of added sugars has been associated with increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even some cancers, to name just a few diseases. The bottom line is that added sugars supply energy but no other nutrients. They’re known as “empty calories.” Plenty of experts agree that sugar-sweetened beverages, and possibly other processed, sugar-supplemented foods, play a role in the development of obesity, now a worldwide epidemic.
It’s no wonder, then, that governments are looking for ways to control sugar consumption. One example is the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (or “sugar tax”), rolled out in the UK in April 2018. Companies are now taxed according to the sugar content of their beverages, which has resulted in a price increase to the consumer. To avoid being taxed, many companies are now working on new, lower-sugar versions of popular sugary drinks. Before the UK effort, some cities in the U.S., as well as Mexico, added a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. In Berkeley, CA and Mexico, the tax seems to be working to reduce sales — and even to boost sales of healthier alternatives. We can only hope that such efforts will lead to a decrease in the rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases.