HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Throughout the country, civic leaders and health advocates have pushed for a soda tax.
One reason for wanting to tax soft drinks is research from the CDC and other health experts saying it's a leading contributor to the country's obesity epidemic. Merit Health Wesley's Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Hannah Thompson said she doesn't disagree that sugar is a health problem.
"I've got many clients that will drink sodas for their main meal," Thompson said.
It's that kind of sugar overload that Thompson said can do real damage to the body.
"We're seeing sugar being linked to obesity, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes," Thompson said. "And it's not the main culprit, but it's a huge factor. It's a huge piece of the puzzle."
It's that piece that Thompson wants people to pay more attention to. She said excess sugar is in more than your favorite pop.
"A lot of your low fat products, they put sugar in there extra sugar, to kind of help the flavor," Thompson said.
Thompson gave this visual to put our sugar-sweetened beverages in perspective.
"Anywhere up to 12 teaspoons, ya know, in one drink," Thompson said.
She said your body can only metabolize up to six teaspoons of sugar a day. So, what's the answer to our sweet consumption?
"Water is free. No calories. A lot of people don't realize how important water is to the body," Thompson said. "The body is mainly made of water. It flushes your system whether it is from medication, excess toxins. Water is very good for the body and most people don't get enough."
Thompson said even as a health advocate, she thinks if a state passes a soda tax it won't deter everyone.
"I think they will still spend whatever cost it is for that soda," Thompson said.
If you want to know more about sugar-sweetened beverages and consumption, visit CDC.gov.