Soda tax may have little obesity impact

June 27, 2011 at 9:48 PM
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EVANSTON, Ill., June 27 (UPI) -- Backers of a higher tax on soda say it may reduce obesity by helping reduce consumption of sugary drinks but U.S. researchers say it may have little impact.

Ketan Patel, a fourth-year doctoral student in economics at Northwestern University at Evanston, Ill., says an amendment to Illinois Senate Bill 396 would add one penny an ounce to the cost of most soft drinks with added sugar or sweeteners -- including soda, sweet iced tea and coffee drinks. The legislation would not apply to artificially sweetened and diet sodas.

Some studies conclude sugary drinks have a lot to do with why Americans are getting fatter, Patel explains.

Patel's analysis showed obese people like diet soda so much more than regular soda that you can do whatever you want to the price, Patel says.

"You're not going to get that much change in obese people's weight because they already drink diet soda."

Patel presented the paper -- titled The Effectiveness of Food Taxes at Affecting Consumption in the Obese: Evaluating Soda Taxes -- at a U.S. Department of Agriculture conference on food policy in Washington.

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