Study: Soda tax reduces obesity-related illness

The National Journal reports, “A tax on sugary soft drinks could discourage consumption just enough to save 26,000 people from dying of strokes, heart attacks, or other obesity-related ills over the next decade,” according to a study in Health Affairs.

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shot” blog reports, “Proponents say that a tax of a penny per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverage would not only raise $13 billion a year, but also save $17 billion in medical costs by reducing the incidence of heart disease and diabetes.”

The authors “assumed that a penny-per-ounce tax would reduce soda consumption by 15%,” and that “40% of the calories saved by drinking less soda would be replaced by drinking more milk and juice,” which led to the calculation “that their hypothetical tax would … result in enough weight loss to reduce the number of obese adults by 867,000 in 10 years.”

However, the blog notes the lack of “hard evidence that raising the price of sugar-sweetened beverages really will prompt people to make healthier choices.”

The Washington Post “Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog” reports, “There’s just one small problem, and it comes with moving this policy into practice: While more than a dozen states now tax soda and other sugary beverages, none do it at as high of a rate as the authors explore here.”

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