Philadelphia’s soda tax cut sugary beverage sales in half

Increasing taxes might not always be a very popular idea, but it might be a good strategy when it comes to encouraging healthy choices.

A tax on sugary beverages decreased sales of unhealthy sodas and other artificially-sweetened drinks, a new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, found.

The “soda tax” was first enacted in 2017, making Philadelphia the second American city to do it, CNN reports. And in the area affected by the tax, sales of sugary beverages dropped 51 percent — a huge amount.

Some of that drop may be slightly exaggerated, as soda sales in counties nearby Philadelphia, which didn’t have the tax in effect, rose. So some people may have traveled to get their drinks at a more agreeable price. But even with this factor, the study found that the overall drop in sugary drink sales came to 38 percent, a not-insignificant amount.

The tax raised the price of sweetened beverages from 5.4 cents an ounce to 6.2 cents an ounce — for the average soda can, that’s an increase of just about 10 cents. But such a small change had a pretty big effect. Considering that sugar leads to a number of health problems including high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and diabetes, scientists are calling for an expanded tax to encompass the whole country, in hopes that we all might drink less soda.

“We have tried, and failed, to curb sugary drink intake through education and individual choices alone,” said Natalie Muth, a pediatrician and registered dietitian. “We need policy changes that will help reduce sugary drink consumption,” especially for children and teens, she said. Read more at CNN. Shivani Ishwar

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