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Should there be a sugar tax?

In an attempt to combat the growing obesity epidemic, Mexico recently approved a sales tax on sugary drinks.
Could taxing sugar and other health damaging foods be an effective way to reduce our rapidly expanding waistlines? And if so, should other countries follow suit?
Is it reasonable to treat sugar and junk foods like other harmfull and addictive drugs such as tabacco and alcohol? Do they deserve such bad press or are we simply passing on the blame for our own inability to take responsibility for our health?
Would such a tax be effective anyway? Or would it simply be an infringement to our freedom of choice and another way for governments to make money?

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    • Jan 22 2014: As a species we certainly seek out pleasure. But is it naive to think that in this day and age we have freedom of choice and that our habit's are our own?

      Food manufacturer's have long been aware of what they call 'the sweet spot' - the point at which a certain food has the most desirable level of sugar, salt or fat and the point at which it becomes most addictive. Many of the foods we regularly eat have been refined, tweaked and had foreign substances added in the pursuit of reaching the sweet spot. As a result, we now consume vastly more sugar than would naturally occur in natural foods.

      So what I'm asking is, if food manufacturer's have been (at least partly) responsible for our sugar addiction, and the government has been complicit in allowing it to happen, should they not take responsibility for changing the habits they have helped to form?
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        • Jan 23 2014: Interesting point.

          Is alcohol not tackled with as much vigour? I would be tempted to argue that most people are at least aware of how damaging substances such as alcohol and tobacco can be, but choose to indulge regardless of the health implications.

          Perhaps the reason why people argue so passionately over sugar is because the jury is still out on how damaging it really is? Especially when you begin to consider alternatives such as artificial sweeteners which many would argue are more damaging than the sugar itself.

          But you're right, I'm sure in 100 years time people will be having a similar conversation over some other substance.

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