Public health is preventing injury and disease, prolonging life and protecting populations by promoting health through product safety and in physical, social and economic environments. Responsibility for promoting the health of the public is shared between the government and communities. Public health focuses on the health of populations, rather than individuals. It is concerned with wide-ranging strategies that concentrate on the prevention of injuries and disease.
Public health in the 20th century have improved the quality of life, increased the life expectancy, and the reduction or elimination of many communicable diseases in populations. The topic “taxing sugar beverages” is a public health issue because Americans drank as much as 13 billion gallons of sugar-sweetened beverages a year, which is the largest source of added sugar and excess calories in the American diet and disputably making it the single largest dietary factor in the current epidemic of obesity.These sugary beverages are inexpensive to buy, but are costly to the U. S because $174 billion per year is spent on diabetes treatment and $147 billion on other obesity-related health problems.
Implementing the penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages can have the potential to reduce obesity, diabetes and heart disease, while saving $17 billion in healthcare costs over ten years and generating $13 billion a year in tax revenue.The fact that researchers estimated that the penny-per-ounce tax could actually reduce new cases of diabetes by 2.6%, as many as 95,000 coronary heart events, 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 premature deaths proves that the excessive consumption of sugary beverages is a public health issue (“A Penny-Per Ounce. ” 2012). (b) Social justice focuses on the “overall fairness of a society” in how it divides and distributes common advantages and common burdens. It coincides with the moral issues that define public health: to advance human well-being by improving health and to do so by mainly focusing on the needs of the most disadvantaged.
When Powers and Faden stated, “what lies at the moral foundation of public health is social justice,” they meant social justice is the primary foundation for health improvement for the population and fair treatment of the disadvantaged. Social justice accounts for institutions and organizations in the society to provide access to what is good for individuals and society as a whole. Without social justice as the primary foundation of public health, healthcare would be considered as an economic good and it would be the individual’s responsibility for health.There would be a greater emphasis on individual well-being rather than the overall population well-being. Social justice is so essential to the mission of public health that it can be described as the field’s core value. (c) Ethics is standards of right and wrong that advise what humans should do, they are usually in terms of rights, obligations, fairness, specific virtues, or benefits to society. The ethics of public health is centered on the principles and values that lead actions to promote health and prevent injury and disease among the population.
Public health ethics highlight the importance of partnership, citizenship, and community. The two principles I feel are the strongest support for why “taxing sugar beverages” is an ethical issue in public health are: Overall Benefit and Communitarianism. Overall Benefit involves public health decisions based on overall statistics and demographic trends. These decisions are better for each one of us although all interventions may not directly benefit everyone. When these public health interventions are properly implemented and regulated the existence of them is far more beneficial than detrimental.The overall benefit supports “taxing sugary beverages” as an ethical issue because the penny-per-ounce tax will affect everyone that purchases sugar-sweetened beverages no matter their amount of consumption. This tax will be more beneficial for all Americans because it can reduce medical treatment costs for diabetes and other obesity-related health problems substantially. It also has the chances to decrease the prevalence of diseases such as stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Communitarianism relies on the idea that what is good for the whole is necessarily good for its parts (p. 10). From this perspective, public health interventions are good for individuals simply because they benefit the community as a whole (p.
10). Communitarianism benefits the “tax on sugary beverages” because although the tax is more focused on reducing the consumption of those who drink these beverages it also protects those who don’t consume them regularly by reducing the prevalence of them being diagnosed with diseases related to consuming these sugary drinks.This can sometimes cause conflict because it is not always the case that what is good for certain individuals and what is good for the community will agree, but this strategy is worth giving consideration because it justifies public health interventions. (d) To address “taxing sugary beverages” changes to government regulations on these sweetened beverages should be changed to include the regulation of grocery stores, restaurants, and vending machines that sell these items.There should also be regulations on advertising commercials and nutritious caloric beverages, water, and diet drinks should begin to replace the sugar-sweetened beverages. I feel this way because the act of placing regulations on these beverages will protect citizens’ health to be more beneficial and cost-efficient to our society. These regulations have the ability to prolong the quality of life, prevent the prevalence of diseases and protect the population.
- “A Penny-Per-Ounce Tax on Sugar Sweetened Beverages Keeps the Doctors Away and Saves Money.
” Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. N. p.
, n. d. Web. 04 Dec.
2012. <http://www. mailman. columbia.
- Faden, Ruth and Shebaya, Sirine, “Public Health Ethics”. The Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2010 Edition),
- Edward N. Zalta (ed.
), URL= http://plato. stanford. edu/archives/sum2010/entries/publichealth-ethics/