Does A Soda Tax Really Help Fight Obesity?

December 11, 2019 0 By Ewald Bahringer


Glucose, sucrose, high fructose! Sugar, you
guys. It’s all so….taxing. Hey everyone, Laci Green here for DNews. Amidst
all of the sensationalism about the “obesity epidemic”, there lies a very important nugget
of information: Americans now consume 39% more added sugars in our food than we did
50 years ago. Particularly, we consume waaaaay more high fructose corn syrup. This is why
some experts say that sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, and fruit juice cocktails are
driving their own public health issues. This has led scientists to try to figure out how
we can better curb our consumption of these sugary beverages, and one of the ways that
has been proposed is: higher taxes. Now even SAYING the word “tax” is generally
divisive one here in the good ol’ U-S-of-A, but a new study has found that a soda tax
might actually come with health benefits. An international study based at the Health
Economics Centre at Monash University concluded that by upping the taxes on soda, people will
lose weight — as much as 8 POUNDS in a year for those who drink a lot of it. In their analysis, they compared the economic
effect of 2 types of taxes: the first was a 20% tax and the second was a 20 CENT tax
per liter of soda. Both taxes are regressive, which basically means it affects the poor
more than the wealthy, but those effects aren’t overly pronounced in the study. With a 20%
tax, the effect impacts all consumption levels with a similar force, whereas the benefit
of a 20 CENT tax is that the tax burden increases when you buy more of the drinks. For the 20% tax, people are projected to lose
about 3 pounds, or 1.3 kilos, in a year. Those who drink A LOT of soda could see that number
doubled. The 20 cent tax had a more dramatic effect, kicking off an 8 pound weight loss,
or 3.6 kilos, in a year. This was only for the middle class though. Why? Researchers
at Duke found that for the rich, they’re still gonna buy the soda either way. For the poor,
they’re more likely to strategize — things like buying in bulk or waiting for sales.
So for both these groups, the health effects aren’t as likely to kick in as the middle
class. While these studies both find some health benefits, other studies have found
that taxes WON’T encourage healthier habits. A recent study by health economists at the
University of Iowa found that just because people are drinking less soda doesn’t mean
that they won’t find more calories elsewhere. So, what do YOU think about a soda tax? Is
it worthwhile if there’s a public health benefit? Or should people be encouraged to drink less
soda on their own — without the deterrence caused by taxes? Let me know what you think
down below, and we’ll be back soon with more DNews updates.