Penny-per-ounce tax on sugar drinks could save $17 billion, cut consumption and prevent disease and death, academics say

More than $17 billion in medical costs over 10 years could be saved if sugared drinks were taxed at 1 cent per ounce, and it would prevent 95,000 cases of coronary heart disease, 8,000 strokes and 26,000 premature deaths, say researchers at Columbia University and the University of California.

The tax would mean an extra 12 cents per can or 20 cents per bottle, and would generate about $13 billion in annual tax revenue. The study, published in this month’s HealthAffairs, found the consumption of sugary drinks, including soda, sports drinks like Gatorade and energy drinks like Red Bull, would be cut by 15 percent among adults ages 25 to 64.
“Even our conservative estimates show that a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could substantially reduce the negative health and financial impacts of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Y. Claire Wang, assistant professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia  and lead author of the study. “Putting the money raised by the tax into efforts to prevent obesity and other health problems could potentially increase the impact of such a policy.”
In 2009, Americans consumed 13.8 billion gallons of sugar-sweetened beverages, which translates to about 45 gallons per person. The average 20-ounce bottle of a sugar drink contains almost 17 teaspoons of sugar. (Read more)
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