Soda Tax Has a 'Big Impact' on Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Jen Falbe, DSc, MPH; Mark Harmel, MPH


June 27, 2019

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Sugar-sweetened-beverage taxes have been proposed as a means to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes. Two cities that have implemented these taxes include Berkeley, California, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Three years after the tax was implemented in Berkeley, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in lower-income, racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods dropped by about 50%.[1] The tax has also raised an incredible amount of revenue for public health and education programs, as well as for community-based organizations focused on health equity. Through fiscal year 2021, more than $9 million has been raised for these purposes.

In Philadelphia, we've also seen a big impact of this tax on the consumption of sugary drinks. A recent study published in JAMA[2] found that within 1 year of tax implementation, there was a net 38% reduction in consumption of taxed beverages. And not only has Philadelphia's tax on sweetened beverages reduced consumption of these drinks, but it has also funded thousands of free preschool seats for low-income families.

Together, these taxes have had the intended impact so far of reducing consumption or purchasing of sugar-sweetened beverages. And they've also been funding important education and public health programs that especially benefit disadvantaged communities—communities that have experienced disproportionate marketing for unhealthy foods and beverages.

This is an important public health tool that could potentially have long-term effects on reducing the prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other cardiometabolic diseases that are related to the consumption of these products.

Follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.