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Small soda taxes insufficient to curb consumption among children, study finds
Date:3/31/2010

Small sales taxes on soft drinks in the range currently in force in some states are insufficient to reduce consumption of soda or curb obesity among children, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Such small taxes may reduce consumption in some subgroups such as children at greater risk for obesity, but reducing consumption for all children would require larger taxes, according to the study published by the journal Health Affairs.

"If the goal is to noticeably reduce soda consumption among children, then it would have to be a very substantial tax" said Roland Sturm, the study's lead author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "A small sales tax on soda does not appear to lead to a noticeable drop in consumption, led alone reduction in obesity."

Taxes on soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages have been proposed as part of many anti-obesity efforts, with the goal being to discourage consumption of the high-calorie drinks in order to curb excess weight gain.

Researchers estimated the potential effect of soft drink taxes on children's consumption and weight by examining differences in existing sales taxes on soft drinks between states. Details about state soda taxes were compared to information about weight and soda consumption among 7,300 children enrolled in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which has been gathering information about a national group of children for many years.

Children studied reported drinking an average of six sodas per week, but there was wide variation among the group. Fifteen percent reported drinking no sodas in the prior week, while 10 percent consumed two or more sodas per day. The amount of soda purchased at school was small.

The analysis could find no significant link between the consumption of soda or weight gain among children and differential taxes on sodas versus other foods. Existing differential taxes (taxes that are i
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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