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OECD Report Sugar Consumption: US Health Care Spends $1 Trillion A Year on Sugar

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First Posted: Jan 20, 2014 08:57 PM EST
sugar excess
America has its own health crisis (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)


There is a health care crisis in the United States right now, related to the excess consumption of sugar, a practice which has a multitude of negative health effects including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, fatty liver disease, and cancer.

Higher health spending per capita typically correlates to lower mortality rates and higher life expectancy, but this is not true in the United States, which spends two-and-a-half times per capita more on health care than any other country.

A new report by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development reveals that thirty to forty percent of health care expenditures in the United States, or $1 trillion a year, is spent fighting the maladies of sugar overconsumption.  The United States ranks first in both daily caloric intake of artificial sweeteners and annual soda consumption, far outpacing second-place Mexico.

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From an economic perspective, high-sugar foods are consumed to excess primarily because they are cheap. The prices are a result of the United States government's policy to use taxes to heavily subsidize the corn crop, which in turn gets used to produce the ubiquitous sweetener: high-fructose corn syrup.

The sugar industry spends more than $20.5 million each year in lobbying members of Congress, causing the majority of politicians to oppose reform to the sugar subsidies, as in the case of the Senate's rejection of the 2013 proposal by Senator Jeanne Shaheen to reduce the guarantees of the farm bill.

The government's policy on sugar protects corporate interests and contributes to the sickening and increasing health care costs of American society. Sugar reform has historically been a Republican venture, and a website that documents recipients of campaign contributions from sugar interests reveals the industry's history of supporting Democrats.

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