Darts & laurels: Wrong way to fight fat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2016

Dart to the notion that putting an extra tax on soft drinks will help the country battle obesity. Sugary sodas are hardly the only thing fueling America’s battle of the bulge. Yet several cities have turned to such a tax to raise revenue.

Philadelphia’s City Council recently voted to tax distributors of sugary and diet beverages at 1.5 cents an ounce; the cost of a 12-ounce can of soda could go up 18 cents. In San Francisco, advertisements for sugar-sweetened drinks have to start carrying warning labels starting next month. Oakland, Calif., voters will decide this November whether to tax the drinks a penny per ounce.

There’s no question Americans have a weight problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of U.S. adults — some 78.6 million people — are obese. The condition can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Declaring war on soft drinks is not going to correct that problem. What about the 2 million tons of french fries this country consumes each year?

Philadelphia’s tax advocates said they were motivated by the need to expand government services more than a desire to improve health. In that case, the tax could add to obesity — a fat city budget.

Laurels to people who care for relatives with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related diseases. A feature in last Sunday’s Post focused on Denny Eaborn, diagnosed at 56 with early onset dementia. He and wife Eugenie have a big-hearted family of 10 children, including several who are adopted. They treat him with great love. Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be the end of life or the end of her children’s respect for their father, Eugenie says.

In “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” Dr. Atul Gawande says he learned about a lot of things in medical school, but mortality was not one of them. “We teach doctors how to try to save people. We teach very little about how we manage the realities of what we cannot fix,” Gawande has said. Families also struggle to deal with illnesses that cannot be “fixed.” The love and attention the Eaborn family shares with Denny is inspiring.