Letter to the Editor: sugar regulation may be necessary

Gary Neale, Correspondent

Thank you for your article on possible sugar regulation. It certainly is a sad state of affairs that something like this is being considered. Especially when taxes from cigarette sales are not spent on health issues.

Pennsylvania collects $1.5 billion from cigarette sales, and the CDC recommends they spend $155 million on tobacco prevention, and sadly PA spends just 9% ($13.9 million) on prevention. (tobaccofreekids.org). Obesity is an enormous problem, and you can continue to allow people to eat all the sugar they want, but they will gain weight, develop more diseases, cost more money to care for, and that means higher health insurance costs for everyone.Not to mention the added costs to programs like medicare and medicaid that are run by the government, through taxation.

38% of the country is obese (has a body mass index greater than 30, healthy is between 18.5 and 25), 68% of the country is obese or overweight, which means being of a healthy weight now represents the minority. So do not worry yourself that just a few people are ruining things for the rest of us. Obese individuals have 50% greater medical costs, and 80% greater prescription costs. Morbidly obese people (generally more than 100 lbs overweight) have a greater risk of Diabetes, Hypertension, Sleep Apnea, Cancer and a shorter life expectancy.Next to smoking it is the second leading preventable cause of death.

The medical costs associated with obesity total over $168 billion a year. Taxation of sugar may seem ridiculous but the public has shown that making healthy choices is not easy, 1.8 million of Pennsylvanians smoke. And do not think for a minute that obese people do not effect the lives of those around them, like drunk drivers or second hand smoke. When people get to 300lb, 400lb, 500lb and have appendicitis or colon cancer they put all the the health care workers at risk. From back injuries trying to lift the patient, to the bad outcomes of increased rates of infections, bed sores and mortality.

Sugar taxation may not do much more than raise awareness, but since we have gone so far as to develop surgical operations for weight loss, perhaps we should still consider all options, even taxation.