As the world knows, obesity has become a public health epidemic over the last several years in the United States, with over 35% of US adults falling into the obese category. But when public health experts and lawmakers try to “do the right thing” by forcing people to engage in healthier behavior, are they going too far?
In a June 8th article on CNN.com, Harriet Washington believes that the ban on sugary drinks that New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed is the wrong way to go about encouraging healthy eating and drinking habits. She also disagrees with “sin taxes,” stating that they often have unintended consequences. In the sugary beverages ban proposal, restaurants, street carts, and movie theaters would not be able to sell any sugary drinks over 16 ounces.
While I don’t necessarily support an outright ban of sugary drinks, I do think that, for the most part, taxes imposed on items (such as those for tobacco and alcohol) are a great step toward discouraging people from partaking in these unhealthy behaviors and increasing state revenue at the same time. Many states have implemented a tax on sugary beverages in recent years, and many others have tried, but failed, for a soda tax to catch on. Mayor Bloomberg even proposed a soda tax in 2009 for NYC, yet this proposal was eventually abandoned and never came to fruition.
The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.