Don’t Get Robbed by Sugar

Cook County, which includes all of Chicago and neighboring towns, passed a tax on all sugar sweetened beverages. Yes, that includes regular and diet pop, sports drinks, flavored water, energy drinks, pre-sweetened coffee and tea, juice from concentrate, syrups, and beverages sweetened with artificial sweeteners. This tax will affect your purchases at the store, along with restaurants, movie theatres, and other places that sell pop or other sweetened beverages. Exceptions include 100% fruit or vegetable juice without additional sweeteners, milk and milk substitutes, unsweetened beverages, and nutritional meal replacements. The Sweetened Beverage Tax, better known as the “Soda” Tax goes into effect on July 1st, 2017 with a one cent tax increase per fluid ounce. taxes

Cook County is one of many locations in the United States adopting a tax on sugar sweetened beverages, including three cities in California and others in Pennsylvania and Colorado. So why the sudden push for a tax on sugar? In the United States, both the prevalence of diabetes and obesity has been steadily increasing since the 1990s. An increase in diabetes and obesity comes with an increase in medical bills and comorbidities.

While a “soda” tax promotes better beverage choices, it ignores many foods that contribute to diabetes and obesity, such as candy, high-sugar cereals, and high fat products. Unfortunately, there has been little research investigating the popularity of high sugar foods after a new tax on sugar sweetened beverages was introduced. Regardless, this tax is a hot topic and it is important that everyone understands the additional costs they must pay if they choose pop, energy drinks, and other sugary beverages.


   coke-cola  simply-fruit-punch  red-bull
Ounces 288 59 34
Without tax: $5.99 $3.50 $8.99
With 1₡ /oz tax $8.76 $4.09 $9.33
Extra cost over one year ( 1 pack or container/week) $132.96 $28.32 $16.32


If you’re reading this and relieved that you don’t live in Cook County or the other cities, keep your eyes open for new bills in your state or city. At this moment, Illinois is attempting to pass a bill that would tax these beverages throughout Illinois, not just Cook County. It is expected that other locations within the United States will do the same as the prevalence of obesity and diabetes remains high.

Interestingly, this tax will not affect individuals using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits because tax is not included. This is significant because many people using SNAP rely on sugar sweetened beverages because they are cheap and readily available.

Berkeley, California was the first city in the United States to tax sweetened beverages. The American Public Health Association reports that water consumption increased a whopping 63% in Berkeley compared to only 19% in surrounding cities after the tax. Additionally, a 21% decrease in sugar sweetened beverage consumption was seen within one year with 82% of study participants reporting that they drank less of these beverages because of the tax. Regardless of the arguments against a sugar tax, the tax may lead individuals to select healthier beverages, which may aid in weight loss and improved glucose levels.

Be proactive and learn how to survive without sugary drinks before July 1st comes around! Below are creative flavor water recipes that will prevent you from spending money on sugary beverages!


Flavor and fizz it: Add your choice of fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables to your water to add flavor. If you’re in the mood for something fizzy, add seltzer water instead.

Strawberry and Cucumber Waterstrawberry-cucmber-water


1 cup fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced

½ medium cucumber, sliced thin

½ gallon (64 fl oz) of water or seltzer water


Apple Cinnamon Water


2 apples, thinly sliced

4 cinnamon sticks

½ gallon (64 fl oz) of water or seltzer water



Pineapple Mint Ginger Water pineapple-mint-ginger-water


4 cups of pineapple, thinly sliced

15 mint leaves, slightly crushed

8 round slices of ginger, smashed

½ gallon (64 fl oz) of water or seltzer water



  1. Add fruits/vegetables/herbs to all of water
    1. If using seltzer water: Mix only half of water (1/4 gallon, 32 fl oz) with fruits/vegetables/herbs/
  2. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours to allow flavors to infuse and water to cool
  3. Stir well and remove fruits/vegetables/herbs
    1. If using seltzer water: Add other half of water (1/4 gallon, 32 fl oz) before serving


Recipes from Food Network Kitchen





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