Tax sugary drinks, urge pediatricians and Heart Association

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American children consume what amounts to a bathtub full of sugary beverages a year — more than 30 gallons of sports drinks, soda and fruit juice. The imagery comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association, which on Monday called for taxes and limits on marketing to children to curtail drinking sugar.

These sweetened drinks pose real — and preventable — risks to our children’s health, including tooth decay, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, pediatrician Natalie Muth said in a joint statement issued by both groups. We need broad public policy solutions to reduce children’s access to cheap sugary drinks.

Teens who get more than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars are more likely to have abnormal cholesterol levels, including higher bad LDL cholesterol, higher triglycerides and lower heart-protective HDL cholesterol, Muth added.

Children and teens now consume 17 percent of their calories from added sugars, nearly half of which comes from drinks alone, according to data the organizations cited. That’s significantly above guidelines recommending children and teens get 10 percent or less of their calories from added sugars.

First-time call for taxes

In addition to limits of what can be marketed to kids, the groups are calling for excise taxes to raise the price of sugary drinks, saying such levies have reduced consumption in cities including Berkeley, California, and Philadelphia. The policy statement is the first time the AAP has recommended taxes on sugary drinks, according to the statement.

Recent research in the journal Science found sugary beverages with high-fructose corn syrup fed colon tumors in mice, while a separate study at Harvard linked sweetened drink consumption to higher risks of heart disease.

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