There is a lot of media these days covering Obama’s proposed plans for healthcare reform. And, equally, there are advocates and opponents who agree on a main component to optimal health: prevention. They argue that without a sensible focus on preventative care for Americans, any healthcare reform would fail. With the fact that most chronic illnesses are preventable with early diagnosis, regular exercise and a sensible diet, there is much validity to this argument. But, influencing behavior change isn’t always as easy as posting a health message via television ad, flyer, or community health fair. Sometimes policy changes can be most effective in influencing mass behavioral change, not just in the health arena. In 2007, former New York City Health Commissioner Tom Frieden set policies that made New York City the first city to ban smoking and the use of trans fats in chain restaurants. Likewise, Obama stated in an interview with Men’s Health Magazine that he is considering placing a specialty tax on sodas and other sugary beverages. “It’s an idea that we should be exploring,” the President said. “There’s no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that’s been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else.” As an avid Coca-cola drinker, who vacillates between quitting cold-turkey and enjoying the cool refreshment of an ice cold cherry coke with extra ice, I am deeply sadden by this news and slight imposition on my often daily fix BUT, as a public health advocate, this type of legislation is reasonable and has worked in the past to fund good community programs (the GA state lottery began in 1993 and funds HOPE scholarships for college students and Pre-K programs for children).
According to the New York Daily Post, Obama acknowledged that the idea could lead to charges that Uncle Sam is trying to dictate personal diets, but he hinted the benefit may be worth it. “Look, people’s attitude is that they don’t necessarily want Big Brother telling them what to eat or drink, and I understand that,” Obama said. “It is true, though, that if you wanted to make a big impact on people’s health in this country, reducing things like soda consumption would be helpful.”
Source: New York Daily Post