Soda Taxes, Soft Drink Consumption, and Children's Body Mass Index

Published In: Health Affairs, v. 29, no. 5, May 2010, p. 1052-1058

Posted on RAND.org on May 01, 2010

by Roland Sturm, Lisa M. Powell, Jamie F. Chriqui, Frank J. Chaloupka

Read More

Access further information on this document at Project HOPE

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages have been proposed to combat obesity. Using data on state sales taxes for soda and individual-level data on children, we examine whether small taxes are likely to change consumption and weight gain or whether larger tax increases would be needed. We find that existing taxes on soda, which are typically not much higher than 4 percent in grocery stores, do not substantially affect overall levels of soda consumption or obesity rates. We do find, however, that subgroups of at-risk children-children who are already overweight, come from low-income families, or are African American-may be more sensitive than others to soda taxes, especially when soda is available at school. A greater impact of these small taxes could come from the dedication of the revenues they generate to other obesity prevention efforts rather than through their direct effect on consumption.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.