Resolution 18-307

Submitted by: Richmond Academy of Medicine

WHEREAS,                   more than two-thirds of Americans are clinically obese or overweight, and numerous medical studies indicate those individuals are at a significantly higher risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other related medical ailments, and

WHEREAS,                   rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic, and

WHEREAS,                   studies have shown that reducing sugary-sweetened beverages - beverages – defined by the CDC as any liquids that are sweetened with various forms of added sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar and sucrose with examples including but not limited to regular soda (not sugar-free), fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters, and coffee and tea beverages with added sugars ---- can lead to better weight control among those who are initially overweight, and

WHEREAS,                   a 2011 study in the journal Preventive Medicine concluded that “a modest tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could both raise significant revenues and improve public health by reducing obesity,” and

WHEREAS,                   the AMA recognizes that taxes on beverages with added sweeteners are one means by which consumer education campaigns and other obesity-related programs could be financed in a stepwise approach to addressing the obesity epidemic, and


WHEREAS,                   in 2014, Berkeley, California became the first city in the United States to

Pass a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages with the goal of citizens cutting back on consumption and eventually helping to chip away at the rates of diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and

WHEREAS,                   that tax, which tacked on one cent per fluid ounce on beverages with added caloric sweeteners like sodas, energy drinks and sweetened fruit drinks appears to be working, according to a report published in the PLOS Journal; and

WHEREAS,                   researchers looked at whether the tax impacted the buying behaviors of Berkeley residents and found that one year after the tax took effect, sales of sugar-sweetened drinks fell by close to 10%, and sales of water increased in Berkeley by about 16%.  Sales of unsweetened teas, milk and fruit juices also went up, suggesting people were substituting their sugary drinks with healthier alternatives; and

WHEREAS,                   since Berkeley, California institutes a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, several other cities have followed their lead with some variation of a soda tax including Boulder, San Francisco, Oakland, Cook County, and Philadelphia, therefore be it

RESOLVED,                 that the Medical Society of Virginia support a statewide tax on sugar-sweetened beverages as a measure to help decrease obesity, and be it further

RESOLVED,                 that the funds generated by such a tax would should be used to develop effective and evidence-based approaches to addressing childhood obesity or health education.


Disagree, education not tax.

So far there has been no evidence that adding an additional tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (or anything else) translates to less obesity, particularly sense we now have reason to believe that fruit juice is as, or nearly as, unhealthy.  As a board certified bariatrician it is my opinion that this completely misses the problem underlying this disease.  We would have far more impact upon this disease in our state if we instead advocated for parity of insurance coverage for physician visits, counseling, dietitian visits and pharmacotherapy consistent with the best current evidence (refer to The Obesity Society, The American College of Clinical Endocrinologists and the Obesity Medicine Association guidelines and position statements).

Absolutely not. Inappropriate, polarizing, and unprofessional. Please focus on ways to improve the lives of patients and physicians in Virginia rather than meaningless political grandstanding.

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