Soda tax reduces consumption, improves health

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Soda taxes contributed to a double-digit decline in soda sales, according to research conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, Healthday reported. The findings were published Tuesday in PLOS Medicine, a medical journal.

Purchases of sugar-sweetened beverages fell close to 27% from July 2017 to December 2019 following a one-cent-per-ounce tax.

Dr. Dean Schillinger, author of the study and a UCSF professor of medicine and a co-chair of the National Clinical Care Commission, said the results indicated sugar-sweetened beverage taxes can improve health and support cost savings. The commission, created by Congress to advise diabetes policy, has endorsed a nationwide tax on sugar sweetened beverages.

The American Beverage Association convinced California lawmakers to ban additional sugary beverage taxes five years ago. Such taxes in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Albany, however, were grandfathered into state law.

Researchers compared sugary drink purchases in Oakland to those in Los Angeles and Richmond, California 30 months before and after the Oakland tax became effective.

Purchases in Oakland declined for all types of sugary beverages.

The researchers estimated how reduced sugary beverage purchases impacted community health using computer modeling. They calculated the health care cost savings based on preventing or controlling heart disease, stroke, diabetes and gum disease.

Consuming 26.8% less sugary beverages over 10 years added 94 quality of life years per 10,000 residents, the researchers said. It also benefited the city a savings in health care costs of more than $100,000 per 10,000 residents.

The research found no evidence that consumers crossed borders to buy the beverages in untaxed locations.

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