20% Increase in Soda Cost Reduces Obesity Risk

Just expanding on a link I put on Kottke last week. If sugary drinks were more expensive, less people would drink them. If less people drink sugary drinks, less people will be obese.


A tax-induced 20-percent price increase on caloric sweetened beverages could cause an average reduction of 37 calories per day, or 3.8 pounds of body weight over a year, for adults and an average of 43 calories per day, or 4.5 pounds over a year, for children. Given these reductions in calorie consumption, results show an estimated decline in adult overweight prevalence (66.9 to 62.4 percent) and obesity prevalence (33.4 to 30.4 percent), as well as the child at-risk-for-overweight prevalence (32.3 to 27.0 percent) and the overweight prevalence (16.6 to 13.7 percent).

20% Increase in Soda Cost Reduces Obesity Risk

5 thoughts on “20% Increase in Soda Cost Reduces Obesity Risk

  1. chris says:

    Perhaps campaign finance ought to be one of the tags on this post too.

    In the link below, Larry Lessig, political activoice as well as Harvard Law and Ethics Prof, uses a bit of a Food Inc-inspired theme for his recent TEDx Boston talk. The talk is on how eliminating corporate donations would have fundamental effects on our democracy. It is illustrated by some potential consequences of reducing the power of the corn lobby which could, in turn, could reduce our collective waistlines. And halt the Type II diabetes epidemic in the youth of our nation. Check it.

    Nice job on Kottke, btw.


  2. Aaron says:

    This is one of those statistics I believe should be listed with the actual numbers. That is, list the actual number of people who are currently obese, etc. as well as the projected difference.

    For example, let’s say the US is roughly 3/4 adults (it’s probably a bit more than this, but I don’t feel like finding the real number), so that’s something like 230 million adults. If we go from 66.9% (~154 million overweight people) to 62.4%, we’re un-obese-ing 12 million people. That’s like making a major health improvement to everyone in NYC and LA combined. Or, it’s like fixing about 4 and a half Houstons.


  3. Andy says:

    a 20% tax increase on sugary drinks also inserts the government furhter into our lives and our decision making process. Its not the government’s job to make sure we’re not obese. Its OUR job to make choices. What if I don’t care about losing 10 years off my life because of the health problems associated with obesity? What if I WANT to choose to eat all the wonderful food I want right now. What if I am willing to make that trade-off? How is it the government’s job to tell me that its going to cost me more money to make that choice?
    (I’m so very much hoping that you’ll answer “because the government is paying for your health care so it now has an interest in how healthy a lifestyle you live”).

    Love the Mad Men recaps!


    1. Andy, you’re adorable.

      The fact is, if the negative effects of obesity affected only the individual who “chooses” to eat unhealthily, you’d be right (well, not right, exactly, but less wrong). However, in the real world, the costs (social and financial) of obesity and obesity-related health problems are borne by all of us.

      That said, rather than a 20% tax on sugary drinks, I’d rather just repeal all of our inefficient agricultural subsidies (which would have a similar effect).


  4. Aaron Pik says:

    Agreed. Even before the government was paying for healthcare for some people, the rest of us picked up the tab in the form of higher insurance premiums and higher costs for care at hospitals (hospitals build the costs of caring for those who can’t pay into the costs of caring for those who can.)

    I doubly agree with emdash’s second point: Let’s stop paying to make soda so cheap.


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