When I first heard of this proposal, I did not react positively. I didn’t understand the direct relationship between sugary drinks and the growing diabetes epidemic, felt that it would be an undue burden on my business, and didn’t see how it could really have a significant impact on this global health issue. I confronted Emo, the creator of this measure; we had a great conversation, and I began to comprehend her strategy and why the timing is so important.
The diabetes epidemic is growing exponentially, and one in four children born today will get Type 2 diabetes through poor diet and lack of exercise. Drinking one soda a day increases one’s chances of getting diabetes by 23 percent. Soda consumption in the U.S. has been noted as a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic, and medical costs related to obesity are about $147 billion a year. Economics alone should carry this. The U.S. leads the way, with 34 percent obesity, trailed by Mexico (which is now passing a sugar tax) at 30 percent.
I’ve talked to several people who say they understand all this, but respond with: “This is not the right way to do it.” I’m not sure if there will ever be a right way that won’t require some real effort in the beginning. This may not be very convenient for us, and might push some of our “Don’t tell me what I should eat or drink” buttons, but surely we can look beyond that and recognize this for what it is: An expression of love for humanity, and a step in the right direction.