A study out of the Rand Corporation has concluded that “small taxes” on soda do little to reduce soft drink consumption or prevent childhood obesity. Economist Roland Sturm and his teams analyzed how more than 7,300 fifth graders ate, drank and moved. The children were asked, as part of the study, how many sodas and sports drinks they drank during the week.
The findings of the study were analyzed in the context of state and local taxes. The average tax on a dollar’s worth of soda was 4 cents and the highest tax was 7 cents. Forty states were represented in the study; approximately 2/3 of the fifth graders lived in states where the tax on the soda was higher than other foods and beverages.
What the research, which has been published online in Health Affairs, found was that most kids did not change their soda or sports drinks habits based on taxes. The one exception was for kids from families with an annual income of $25,000 or less: those kids drank one less can of soda per week because of the tax. Sadly, that still brought the total to seven cans of soda per week.
The conclusion of the study? “Small taxes will not prevent obesity,” said Sturm.
The same study, however, found that larger taxes might. Sturm said that the research indicated that taxes of about 18 cents per dollar would affect behavior.
Does that mean that Philly had it right? Under Mayor Nutter’s proposal, a can of soda would see a 24 cent tax increase and an individual bottle of soda would see a 32 cent tax increase.
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