Penny-per-ounce soda tax saves $17 billion

Jan. 16, 2012 at 11:56 PM
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NEW YORK, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could generate $13 billion a year in tax revenues but save more in healthcare costs, U.S. researchers say.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, estimated that, in a 10-year period (2010-2020), the penny-per-ounce tax could reduce new cases of diabetes by 2.6 percent, eliminate as many as 95,000 coronary heart events, 8,000 strokes and 26,000 premature deaths -- totaling about $17 billion in medical costs avoided.

Dr. Y. Claire Wang of the Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health said 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 do.

Wang and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, estimated if a penny-per-ounce tax were imposed on sugar-sweetened beverages, it would result in an approximately 15 percent reduction in consumption and reduce the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Sugar-sweetened beverages add about $174 billion per year to diabetes treatment costs and $147 billion on other obesity-related health problems, the researchers said.

Because weight gain is just one factor in how sugary beverages contribute to diabetes and heart disease, the researchers point out, even if all the calories saved by cutting soda consumption were replaced and body weight remained the same, cutting consumption would still reduce diabetes and heart disease, the study said.

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