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Doctors Are Calling For More Taxes And Policy Changes For High-Sugar Drinks

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The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement outlining its desired approaches to reduce the excessive consumption of high-sugar drinks among children.

The paper released in Pediatrics in March 2019 highlighted how the U.S. children are consuming more added sugar from their beverages than the dietary recommendations.

It usually comes from refined fruit juices and products that contain sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, and glucose. It doesn't cover the naturally occurring sugars from fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

These sugars make up 17 percent or almost half of their consumed calories. The recommended dietary guidelines limit them to no more than 10 percent.

Policy Recommendations

The experts proposed six policy changes to discourage the consumption of high-sugar drinks, especially among children of minority and low-income families who tend to be the most vulnerable:

  • Increasing the prices of these beverages by imposing a higher excise tax
  • Decreasing marketing exposure by disallowing the companies to deduct expenses related to these advertisements from their taxes
  • Improving federal nutritional assistance programs that include limiting the children's access to sugary drinks and increasing the availability of healthy food
  • Enhancing access to nutrition information from nutritional labels, advertisements, and restaurant menus
  • Making healthy drinks such as milk and water the default options in the children's diet or menu
  • Encouraging hospitals to disincentivize or limit the purchase of high-sugar drinks

"Pediatricians may tailor their advocacy efforts to approaches that are most likely to lead to decreased access to and consumption of sugary drinks in the children and families they serve, whether on a local, state, or federal level," said the statement.

The American Beverage Association, meanwhile, already released a response.

"America's beverage companies believe there's a better way to help reduce the amount of sugar consumers get from beverages and it includes putting parents in the driver's seat to decide what's best for their children," said William Dermody, the association's spokesperson.

Other Groups Call For Similar Recommendations

The consumption of high-sugar drinks among children and adolescents raises the likelihood of developing chronic diseases early. These include cardiovascular disorders and type 2 diabetes.

For this reason, other organizations had already called on stringent policy changes before. The World Health Organization backed higher taxes on sugary drinks and products, which other countries such as Mexico already adopted.

The American Heart Association suggests limiting the daily consumption of added sugars to less than 0.88 ounces for children between 2 and 18 years old.

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