Thursday, June 04, 2009
Health care reform may include new sugary soda tax
By Dr. Anthony Policastro

There will be a lot of different aspects to the changes in health care that are being discussed in Washington. One of the ones that I read about recently was related to soda. Under consideration is a one cent tax on each can of non-diet soda. With the obesity epidemic in this country, that seems right on target. Unfortunately, it may not be enough of a tax to move people away from drinking non-diet soda. Regular soda has no nutritional benefit. There are no essential food groups represented in it. What it does have is about 130 calories per 12 ounces. There are 3,500 calories in each pound. That means someone who consumes one can of soda per day will drink the equivalent of one pound per month. That represents a weight gain of 12 pounds per year. If the amount is two cans per day that amount goes up to 24 pounds per year. If the amount is a 20 ounce bottle the weight gain would be close to 20 pounds per year. If that person ultimately becomes obese related to drinking soda, they will experience health problems related to obesity. It makes sense to use a tax on the soda they drink to help pay for those health problems. A related issue is Mountain Dew, a highly caffeinated soda. It uses the caffeine to produce a form of addiction to the beverage which causes people to keep drinking it much as they would their morning coffee. It is best to avoid Mountain Dew because all it does is get you to drink more of it. I caution my patients to not drink empty calories. Take a look at what you are drinking. See how many calories it has in it. For example, most people do not realize that a can of iced tea has about the same number of calories as a soda. Specialty coffees like latte contain a large amount of calories related to the milk they contain. There is little reason to drink whole milk as opposed to 1% or 2% after the age of two years. The list goes on and on. We currently tax cigarettes and alcohol because they are bad for you. It is only logical to add non-diet soda to this list. In the long run, it will do one of two things. It will either move people to drink lower calorie soda, which will mean less costs related to obesity. Or it will help pay for the obesity complications of those who continue to drink non-diet soda.

Rommel's Ace raises $6,000 Rommel's Ace Hardware stores spotlighted Women Supporting Women and their fight against breast cancer during the month of May. So far $6,000 has been raised thanks to generous customers at the 10 hardware stores on Delmarva. Stores in Delaware include Millsboro, Selbyville, Seaford and Dover. Women Supporting Women is a community-served, community-supported agency serving the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Its mission is to provide awareness, friendship and support for breast cancer survivors and their families. WSW recently added a Mid-Shore Chapter serving Dorchester, Talbot and Caroline counties.

Look Good...Feel Better Women undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer can now receive free professional help to cosmetically disguise the appearance-related side effects of their treatments. Look Good...Feel Better, a program developed by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cosmetology Association, trains volunteer cosmetologists to help women with cancer, conceal loss of hair, skin problems and other side effects that can result from cancer therapy. The next program will be hosted by the Cancer Care Center at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital on Monday, June 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Cancer Care Center's 2nd floor conference room. The program is free to all patients in active cancer treatment. Registration is required, and space is limited. To register, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Cancer Care Center at 629-6611, ext. 2588.

Cancer Support Group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a General Cancer Support Group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones. The free monthly support group meets in the Second Floor Conference Room of the Cancer Care Center at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Wellness Community-Delaware is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. All facilitators of these groups are trained mental health professionals. For more information and to register, call 645-9150.

Depression Support Group There will be a free bimonthly Depression Support Group meeting in Laurel on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Any person who has signs and symptoms of depression and is under the care of a professional counselor/MD is welcome to attend. To register, call Life Matters Counseling and Consulting at 302-465-6612.

Stroke support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Stroke Support Group meeting is Thursday, June 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the hospital's second floor Cancer Care Center Conference Room. The support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. The two-hour support group meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required and there is no charge to participate. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.