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Americans have waddled their way down a path of overconsumption and ignorance.

Government: Soda a sin, now tithe!

Americans have waddled their way down a path of overconsumption and ignorance. However, an enforced tax is not the answer.

There are few sounds as distinct as that of a soda can first cracked open. This sound, refreshing to many people’s ears, may soon be the sound of cash raking into the government’s pocket.

A soda tax has been proposed by some of the most prominent health experts in the nation, who have cited how it could help reduce America’s obesity epidemic. The proposed initiative would target sugar-sweetened beverages, which include energy drinks, sports drinks, juices and, of course, soft drinks. Health experts say that a one cent per ounce tax would help decrease consumption and increase revenue for health care, which shovels out a great deal of money to treat problems related to obesity.

The soda tax seems to be a government fundraiser masquerading as an incentive to make our communities healthier. It’s as if the government is slowly diminishing the right of personal choice, rationalized by a gluttonous public that is evidently unable to practice self-control.

Soft drinks have been around since 1893. Coca-Cola was available in every state by 1895. Why, after so many years, is soda inheriting the majority of the blame for America’s rise in obesity?

Obesity does not solely stem from the basic consumption of soda itself, but is just one component of an overall unhealthy diet. It has been shown that overweight people tend to drink more sugary beverages than their slimmer counterparts, but they also take in more calories from food and are more likely to be inactive, all which contribute to a person’s likelihood of becoming obese. Soft drinks cannot be singled out as the number one contributor to an overweight and unhealthy society.

Instead of taxing an already struggling public, why not make adopting a healthy lifestyle more accessible to the masses? As someone who believes in everything whole, fresh and nutritious, I know the price tag that comes along with it. Most Americans reach for sugar-laden sodas and grease-drenched food primarily because it is cheap and filling. Downing a caffeinated beverage or a sugary energy drink provides an instant gratification, giving you energy before the inevitable crash that will leave you grasping for another one.

Numerous studies have found a correlation between obesity and health problems, such as diabetes, stroke and heart attack. This is the first time in history that health experts predict a current generation may have a shorter life span than the previous one, despite advanced medicine and technology. That is not only scary, it’s pathetic.

Yet it is not a non-preventable issue.

I propose an initiative that takes more thought and effort and encourages people to want to make better choices for their personal health. Making people pay more while claiming they practice an improper lifestyle will only produce opposition and resentment toward any health benefit that was supposed to stem from the tax. You can’t shove health down a person’s throat, even if it’s better than what they’re throwing down there.