Experts Note Questions Remain on Tax Structure, Diet Changes to Health and Obesity Outcomes
Silver Spring, MD, July 12, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Countries across the globe have generated headlines recently over their efforts to tax sugar, tobacco and alcohol products. Even though tobacco and alcohol taxation has helped to reduce consumption and save lives, these beneficial effects have not yet been proven for taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).
“Although taxing SSBs might generate revenue that can be used to promote other healthy food items, the net outcome may not necessarily decrease overweight and obesity rates in the United States or worldwide,” said Steven B. Heymsfield, MD, FTOS, President-Elect of The Obesity Society (TOS) and professor and director of the Body Composition-Metabolism Laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
As indicated by the Sugar, Tobacco, Alcohol Taxes (STAX) group, “there are greater complexities in the relationship between diet and obesity than between alcohol and tobacco and negative health outcomes,” said Dale Schoeller, PhD, FTOS, TOS Secretary/Treasurer and professor emeritus in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Wisconsin.
Heymsfield adds that while taxation of SSBs has led to changes in consumption, it has also raised numerous questions about how best to structure such taxes and how resulting dietary changes influence health. “With this in our minds,” TOS Vice President Lee M. Kaplan, MD, PhD, FTOS, said, “I believe that we have a primary responsibility to carefully dissect what we know about the effects of taxing SSBs on obesity from its other potential health benefits and risks, and to promote additional research where necessary to clarify areas of debate and identify new opportunities for progress.” Kaplan also serves as the director of the Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Well designed trials can provide evidence that taxation of SSBs may indeed decrease overall calorie consumption, lead to weight loss or prevent weight gain, and enlighten us on underlying mechanisms that will give us a solid scientific foundation prior to initiating a global effort to tax SSBs,” said Caroline Apovian, MD, FACP, FTOS, DABOM, TOS President and a professor of medicine and pediatrics in the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition at the Boston University School of Medicine.
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