Research finds soda tax does little to decrease obesity

April 1, 2014 by Karen Faster

(Medical Xpress)—Extra sales taxes on soda may not do anything to improve people's health, according to new research from health economist Jason Fletcher of the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"Some older studies suggest that taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages will reduce obesity by 20 percent rely on household data instead of individual consumption patterns, and they assume that individuals don't replace the calories in the with calories from another source," says Fletcher, who co-authored the article with David E. Frisvold, of the University of Iowa's Economics Department, and Nathan Tefft, of the University of Washington's School of Public Health. "In contrast, our study found that increases in soft drink tax rates do correlate to less , but not a reduction in calorie intake."

In their new research, published initially online by the journal Health Economics in March, Fletcher and his co-authors conducted two studies. One uses National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys data to estimate effects on reported consumption and caloric intake of soda and other beverages as well as measured height and weight for a nationally representative sample of adults between 1989 and 2006.

"This evidence demonstrates that large increases in soft drink taxes are unlikely to reduce total ," Fletcher says. "The impact of taxes on the is small in magnitude and not statistically significant."

The second study looks at Ohio and Arkansas in the early 1990s. Both states substantially increased soda taxes. Fletcher, Frisvold and Tefft compare weight outcomes in those two states to outcomes in control groups drawn from other states. The apparent effects of a soda tax depend on which control group they used.

Additionally, although the tax appears to reduce index and obesity prevalence in Arkansas when compared with states with no tax change, the tax increased body mass index in Ohio, Fletcher says.

"Our results cast serious doubt on the assumptions that proponents of large soda taxes make about the effects on population weight," Fletcher says. "Given that people substitute other calories when they give up soda, these new results suggest we need fundamental changes to policies that make large soda taxes a key element in the fight to reduce overall obesity rates."

Explore further: Americans don't want soda tax, size restrictions

Related Stories

Americans don't want soda tax, size restrictions

March 20, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Those hoping to dilute Americans' taste for soda, energy drinks, sweetened tea and other sugary beverages should take their quest to school lunchrooms rather than legislative chambers, according to a recent ...

Can soda tax curb obesity?

June 28, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- To many, a tax on soda is a no-brainer in advancing the nation’s war on obesity. Advocates point to a number of studies in recent years that conclude that sugary drinks have a lot to do with why Americans ...

American Heart Association comments on sugar-sweetened beverage taxes to address obesity

November 6, 2013
The American Heart Association issued the following comments on a recent article published by the British Medical Journal focusing on a study of the impact of sugar sweetened drink taxes:

Recommended for you

Study finds 90 percent of American men overfat

July 24, 2017
Does your waist measure more than half your height?

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behaviour?

July 19, 2017
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Young adult obesity: A neglected, yet essential focus to reverse the obesity epidemic

July 18, 2017
The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, ...

Weight gain from early to middle adulthood may increase risk of major chronic diseases

July 18, 2017
Cumulative weight gain over the course of early and middle adulthood may increase health risks later in life, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that, compared ...

Study finds children carry implicit bias towards peers who are overweight

June 23, 2017
Even children as young as 9 years old can carry a prejudice against their peers who are overweight, according to a new study led by Duke Health researchers. They might not even realize they feel this way.

Mother's obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

June 15, 2017
Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.