A study published earlier this month in Nature suggested, controversially, that noncaloric artificial sweeteners could induce glucose intolerance, typified by conditions such as pre-diabetes and diabetes. In other words, the chemicals we developed to cater to a diabetic market may in fact be causing diabetes.
Opponents of soda taxes say they don't work. They point to a study from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Actually, that study showed that soda taxes do work. Weak soda taxes of three percent, without any accompanying public health campaign, work weakly. But, they work. They decrease soda consumption.
I don't begrudge the soda executives their photo op with former President Clinton. But if the companies were really serious about reducing Americans' caloric intake from beverages, they would stop reflexively fighting sensible public health measures, such as taxes, warning labels, and limits on sugars in beverages, that would drive down consumption by 75 percent.
The nutritional fable goes something like this: Rather than criticize industry for its questionable practices, health organizations should "sit at the table" with industry leaders and see what compromises can be reached. This all sounds wonderfully cooperative and democratic, but it also ignores some stark realities.