The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation's largest physician group, voted at its annual meeting to adopt policy addressing the obesity epidemic.
"While there is no silver bullet that will alone reverse the meteoric rise of obesity, there are many things we can do to fight this epidemic and improve the health of our nation," said AMA board member Alexander Ding, M.D. in a prepared statement. "Improved consumer education on the adverse health effects of excessive consumption of beverages containing added sweeteners should be a key part of any multifaceted campaign to combat obesity."
A number of studies have shown that intake of sugar-sweetened beverages has been strongly and consistency associated with increased body weight and a number of health conditions like type 2 diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages comprise nearly half of Americans' added sugar intake, and reducing consumption of these beverages is a simple way to reduce intake of added sugar and empty calories.
The new policy adopted by the AMA recognizes that while a number of factors contribute to the obesity epidemic, taxes on beverages with added sweeteners are one way to finance consumer education campaigns and other obesity-related programs. Where taxes on beverages with added sweeteners are implemented, the revenue generated should primarily be used for programs to prevent or treat obesity and related conditions.
"Where taxes are implemented on sugar-sweetened beverages, using revenue for anti-obesity programs and educational campaigns explaining the adverse effects of excessive consumption of these beverages will help to reduce the consumption of these caloric beverages and improve public health," said Ding.
The AMA will also advocate for continued research into the potentially adverse effects of long-term consumption of non-caloric sweeteners in beverages, particularly in children and adolescents as a result of this new policy.