This study is concerned with the problem of the negative influence of trans fatty acids and sugar-containing foods (sweetened beverages in particular) on the health of consumers, and with possible regulations (bans, additional taxes) that might be recommended to reduce the adverse impact of these products. A qualitative analysis of scholarly literature was performed. The study found out that the products in question do negatively affect people’s health, and that it should be useful to ban trans fats and introduce additional taxes on sugar-containing foods. Further studies of concrete tax policies related to sugar-containing foods and their replacements are recommended.
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Our study addresses the effect of consumption of trans fats, or trans fatty acids, as well as of sugar-containing products, sodas in particular, on health outcomes, and the possible policies which might affect the consumption of these products.
According to the popular beliefs, sugar-containing products, as well as trans fats, have a negative effect on people’s health. It is also known that taxing may be used as a means of price regulation (Anderson, 2011).
Do sugar-containing products and trans fatty acids adversely affect the heath? Should trans fats be banned? Should there be additional taxes on sugar-containing products, sodas in particular, in order to reduce their consumption?
Sugar-containing products, sodas in particular, negatively influence the people’s health. 2. Trans fatty acids have an adverse impact on people’s health. 3. Sugar-containing products, sodas in particular, should be additionally taxed to reduce the amounts of their consumption. 4. Trans fats should be banned in schools, restaurants, and perhaps even on greater levels (cities, countries).
Our study is a qualitative meta-analysis based on a revision of scholarly articles. In order to gather the data, an online search was conducted. Seven scholarly articles were chosen and scrutinized to obtain the information necessary for the study. We also looked for information in other online sources using a Google search; one such article was used.
Data collection and analysis
Having conducted the online search, we were able to find a number of studies related to the outcomes of trans fatty acids consumption. According to the analyzed research, there exist various negative outcomes related to trans fats consumption. For instance, Ganguly & Pierce (2012) state that the consumption of industrial trans fatty acids is often associated with the increased risks of cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis. Even though ruminant trans fatty acids might have a cardioprotective effect, it is stated that the adverse effect of trans fatty acids is verified by much greater amount of scientific evidence (Ganguly & Pierce, 2012, p. 1093).
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Further, Golomb, Evans, White, & Dimsdale (2012) argue that the consumption of dietary trans fatty acids is strongly associated with higher levels of aggression in adults; at the same time, there is a possibility that these substances might lead to an increased risk of depression. Another study shows that the consumption of even small amounts of dietary trans fatty acids (1 gram) had a significant correlation to the functioning of memory (worse word recall) in young adults (age <45), although the older generation (age >45) was not affected (Golomb & Bui, 2015). In any case, this means that these substances have an adverse effect on cognitive functions of the brain (Golomb & Bui 2015).
As for the effect of sugar-containing products, sodas in particular, we also analyzed a number of articles discussing the problem. For instance, Lustig, Schmidt, & Brindis (2012) argue that a higher level of sugar consumption is strongly associated with a greater risk of chronic non-communicable diseases. Further, Escobar, Veerman, Tollman, Bertram, & Hofman (2013) state that a major level of sugar-sweetened drinks consumption causes additional weight gain, which leads to a larger risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, and a number of types of cancers. Sturm, Powell, Chriqui, & Chaloupka (2010) also argue that higher levels of sugar-sweetened sodas result in weight gain.
According to the cited articles on sugar-containing products, it might be effective to introduce additional taxes on soft beverages and other sugar-containing products to reduce the amounts of their consumption. For instance, Sturm et al. (2010) claim that, while low taxes on soda do not affect the overall amounts of sweetened beverages consumption, they may reduce the availability of sodas to children who are already at risk (in particular, those who are already overweight – many of them are African Americans or live in low-income families). Lustig et al. (2012) also state that various methods of regulation (not only taxing but also limiting sales during school hours or introducing age limits) should be effective in limiting harmful drinks consumption. Escobar et al. (2013) show that, according to the evidence, taxing sodas leads to lower obesity rates. Finally, Bíró (2015) has found out that additional taxes on unhealthy foods in general were able to cause better dietary preferences among the Hungarian population.
As our study shows, trans fats consumption leads to numerous health problems. Taking this fact into account, it is clear that a ban on trans fats usage, in school districts and in restaurants in particular, should lead to better health outcomes. School districts and restaurants should be the primary targets for such a ban, for children rarely approach health problems with due attention, and the customers of restaurants will not always try to find out the amounts of trans fats in the meals they buy. In fact, the numerous problems that are caused by trans fatty acids should be a good enough reason to prohibit the usage of these substances on a much greater level – not only in cities, but perhaps in whole countries.
Regarding additional taxes on sodas and sugar-containing products, it has been shown that such taxes lower the amount of consumption of these products, at least among the at-risk population. Therefore, such taxing is highly probable to result in better health outcomes. However, it should be pointed out that the primary targets of these taxes, at-risk children, often come from low-income families (Sturm et al., 2010); therefore, introducing such taxes is likely to deprive these children of foods they like much and exacerbate the negative feelings caused by their social status. Therefore, it would be better to introduce not only additional taxes on sugar-containing products but also subsidies on foods that might substitute the harmful products, but do not lead to such adverse health outcomes (for instance, fruit juices). Besides, cheaper replacement products (e.g. juices) are likely to result in an even greater reduction in sugar-containing products consumption (e.g. sodas). It is also stated that it might be effective to tie the taxes to the amount of sugar which the product contains (Parry, 2015).
Our research shows that both trans fatty acids and sugar-containing products such as sodas lead to highly negative health outcomes. According to the evidence, even low additional taxes on sweetened beverages reduce the amounts of their consumption in at-risk population; higher taxes are recommended, along with subsidies on healthy foods. The study, therefore, has confirmed all our research hypotheses. A further research on the amount of tax on sugar-containing products and the amount of subsidy on their healthy replacements might be required.
Anderson, J. E. (2011). Public policymaking: An introduction (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Bíró, A. (2015). Did the junk food tax make the Hungarians eat healthier? Food Policy, 54, 107-115. doi:10.1016/j.foodpol.2015.05.003
Escobar, M. A. C., Veerman, J. C., Tollman, S. M., Bertram, M. Y., & Hofman, K. J. (2013). Evidence that a tax on sugar sweetened beverages reduces the obesity rate: a meta-analysis. BMC Public Health, 13, 1072. Web.
Ganguly, R., & Pierce, G. N. (2012). Trans fat involvement in cardiovascular disease. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 56(7), 1090-1096. Web.
Golomb, B. A., & Bui, A. K. (2015). A fat to forget: Trans fat consumption and memory. PLoS One, 10(6). Web.
Golomb, B. A., Evans, M. A., White, H. L., & Dimsdale, J. E. (2012). Trans fat consumption and aggression. PLoS One, 7(3). Web.
Lustig, R. H., Schmidt, L. A., & Brindis, C. D. (2012). The toxic truth about sugar. Nature, 482(7383), 27-29. Web.
Sturm, R., Powell, L. M., Chriqui, J. F., & Chaloupka, F. J. (2010). Soda taxes, soft drink consumption, and children’s body mass index. Health Affairs, 29(5), 1052-1058. Web.
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