Sugary drinks were again the target of anti-obesity efforts this week as the American Medical Association threw its support behind a tax on these beverages. At the AMA annual meeting Wednesday, members of the organization – the largest physician group in the country – voted to adopt a policy that promotes taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages. A growing body of research has linked added sugars to higher body weight and to health conditions associated with being overweight, such as Type II diabetes. Sugar sweetened beverages account for approximately half of Americans’ added sugar intake, according to AMA. AMA supports a sugary drink tax both because it will make consumers think twice before spending on these products and because the extra money would contribute to anti-obesity measures such as treatments for obesity-related conditions and consumer education. “While there is no silver bullet that will alone reverse the meteoric rise of obesity, there are many things we can do to fight this epidemic and improve the health of our nation,” said AMA board member Alexander Ding, M.D in a statement Wednesday. “Improved consumer education on the adverse health effects of excessive consumption of beverages containing added sweeteners should be a key part of any multifaceted campaign to combat obesity.” According to a report by AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health, a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks would lower obesity rates by 5 percent and would save $17 billion in medical costs over 10 years. AMA noted that it will also continue to support research into potential negative effects of the long-term consumption of zero-calorie sugar substitutes.