Paying more for your soft drinks?

I read two articles on the topic of new taxes recently, in this case taxes on soft drinks, teas and sports drinks.  The lawmakers are, of course, not just interested in our health; they need to "plug budget gaps," as one of the newspapers commented, or pay for new programs, including health initiatives. About thirty states are taxing sodas already, including my home state (for the past eleven years as of the 31st) of Colorado.

As expected the makers and sellers of these beverages don't think it's a good idea at all and the sum the American beverage Association spent on lobbying went from $668,000 in 2008 to $18.9 million in 2009 to $5.4 million in the first quarter of 2010. A large part of that went toward fighting off the new taxes.

I drink one diet soda a day and don't mind paying the extra two cents on twelve ounces that has been proposed. I see youngsters in our health club chugging down large amounts of sports drinks every day (I'm there six or seven days a week) and frequently mixing in "muscle-building" powders.

I've looked back over some of the medical literature on my diet soda and there's a controversy as to adverse effects even there. But the question is clearly unresolved, so for now I'll stick to my one-a-day routine.

Otherwise I have a great idea for you: drink water, preferably not from small plastic bottles, maybe filtered if your local water is of concern. I just bought a half-dozen limes (oh my, the price has gone up!) and used my lime squeezer to make a one-quart glass of lime water. It was sitting on a coaster beside my mouse pad as I wrote this. I use the past tense because I just finished the glassful.

I don't think the sports drinks, the muscle-building powders, the sugary sodas make much sense, especially when they come in potentially (and I say that without a great deal of data to support the statement) hazardous little plastic bottles that won't compost or disintegrate for many centuries. I'd prefer to hydrate the old fashioned way, with water.

Now for a period of five years when I headed a section of our largest Air Force hospital, the section that interfaced with the base itself and, among other things, had a troop clinic for basic trainees and others to get their first-line medical care, I really liked a particular sports drink. When kids from the north came to Texas in the summer for Air Force Basic training, the frequently got dehydated, lost not only water in their swaet, but electrolytes as well. Those young folk did very well with a sports drink as a first step in rehydration. But even they acclimated after a short time (three to four weeks) and water sufficed thereafter.

So my bottom line is here's one tax I'm in favor of.  If you're working hard in hot weather you may need some electrolyte-containing fluid, for a while. Otherwise, drink more water.

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