A study due to come out next week in the journal Diabetes Care draws a conclusion that I don’t think will surprise anyone: drinking sugared sodas can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Resarchers at the Harvard School of Public Healthat did a meta-analysis that pooled 11 studies which encompassed about 300,000 patients that examined the association between sugar-sweetened beverages and different metabolic outcomes.
The findings showed that drinking one 12-ounce serving per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 15% (compared to people that had < 1 sugary drink per month), and increasing that to one to two sugary drinks per day increased the risk to 26%. As outcome analyses go, those are pretty big numbers.
So, as a society, what can we do about this? What should we do about this? I’d say the fundamental proposition of America is the right to individual freedom. Certainly, people do all sorts of things that are bad for them in the long run: they eat too much, and too much of the wrong things. They drink too much. They smoke. They don’t exercise enough. You know how it goes – but hey, it’s your life, right? If you wanna blow it on Ding-Dongs and Dr Pepper, go for it.
Last year, I posted about a bid in New York to start taxing sugary sodas and “energy” drinks. The position was that we’re all going to bearing the healthcare burden of an obese and diabetic citizenry, so let’s treat sodas like cigarettes – tax them with the dual purpose of raising money (to help cover healthcare costs) and as a disincentive to their purchase.
That went over like a lead balloon – with cries that the government was going too far in trying to tell us what we could and couldn’t eat. That we as a populace were not their spoiled children that’d had too much dessert (you know, even though we have been having too much dessert for years).
Well, this month, NYC mayor Bloomberg has asked the Federal government for the authority to ban NYC’s 1.7 million food stamp recipients from using them to buy sugary sodas. Here the argument goes, “Okay, so maybe telling folks with their own money what they can and can’t buy at the grocery store is too far, but since food stamps are the government’s money, they should get a say.” Already you can’t buy cigarettes and alcoholic beverages with food stamps, this would just expand that umbrella. And as with those other products, there’s nothing that says a food stamp recipient can’t use their own money to buy such things.
So – a good idea, or government behavior police gone wild?