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A penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages keeps the doctor away and saves money
Date:1/9/2012

Over the past 10 years, Americans drank more sugar-sweetened beverages than everas much as 13 billion gallons a yearmaking these drinks the largest source of added sugar and excess calories in the American diet and, arguably, the single largest dietary factor in the current obesity epidemic. While many states have a sales tax on soda, experts believe they are too low to impact consumption. In a study conducted at Columbia University Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco, researchers estimated that if a higher, penny-per-ounce tax were imposed on sugar-sweetened beverages, it would result in an approximately 15% reduction in consumption and reduce the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The study findings are published online in the January issue of Health Affairs.

The researchers estimated that, over a ten year period (2010-2020), the penny-per-ounce tax could reduce new cases of diabetes by 2.6%, as many as 95,000 coronary heart events, 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 premature deaths. These health benefits represent more than $17 billion over a decade in medical costs avoided for adults aged 25󈞬, in addition to generating approximately $13 billion in annual tax revenue.

"While there is some uncertainty as to what drinks people would choose instead of taxed beverages, our conclusion that a penny-per-ounce tax would reduce consumption by 15% is actually a conservative estimate," said Y. Claire Wang, MD, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Wang notes that the tax would have the greatest impact among younger adults and men of all ages, who drink more sugar-sweetened beverages than older adults and women.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 2003󈝲 and a questionnaire on food choices and frequency of meals, the investigators looked at two
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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