Plus, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, sugar has been shown to play a prominent role in the development of heart disease, cancer, dementia, type 2 diabetes, poor sleep quality, depression, and even acne, infertility, and impotence.
The World Health Organization (WHO), understandably, wants to make sure we stop getting our kids hooked on the stuff.
According to a report recently released by WHO's Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, soft drinks and their ads aimed at children were a major factor in the alarming increase of obese children from 31 million in 1990 to 41 million in 2014. The commission found that, in Africa, obesity in children under five has nearly doubled since 1990 (5.4 million) to 10.3 million.
But they believe that a "sugar tax" on soft drinks could help solve this problem. The first of such a tax in the U.S. took effect on January 1, 2015 in Berkeley, California. In 2013, Mexico’s congress passed a tax on sugary beverages and junk foods, which went into effect January 14. Both have shown promising declines in soda consumption.
The commission states: "Processed, energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods and sugar-sweetened beverages, in increasing portion size, at affordable prices have replaced minimally-processed fresh foods and water in many settings at school and family meals.
"The easy access to energy-dense foods and sugar-sweetened beverages and the tacit encouragement to 'size-up' through commercial promotions have contributed to the rising caloric intake in many populations."
They also recommend removing junk-food advertisements from areas frequented by children.
"Despite the increasing number of voluntary efforts by industry, exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods remains a major issue demanding change that will protect all children equally," the report continues.
"Any attempt to tackle childhood obesity should, therefore, include a reduction in exposure of children to, and the power of, marketing."
The report also states schools should ban the "provision or sale of unhealthy foods, such as sugar-sweetened beverages and energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, in the school environment."
Programs like Mexico’s and Berkeley’s are drawing attention to soda’s role in chronic health problems. Of course, a soda tax alone is not going to solve the entire obesity and diabetes epidemic, but it might help change how people view these beverages.