Study boosts “soda tax” for fighting obesity
The “best option” for reducing childhood obesity would be a tax on sweetened sodas, concludes a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Researchers selected three approaches for how the U.S. government could most effectively tackle the problem:
- After-school physical activity programs
- A 1 cent per ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages
- A ban on child-directed fast food television advertising
For each of these policies, the researchers reviewed available literature published between 2000 and 2012. They then created computer models analyzing a simulated school-aged population after 20 years of policy implementation to estimate the impact for each policy on diet, physical activity and body mass index (BMI).
The simulations show that after-school activity programs would reduce obesity the most among children aged 6 to 12 (by 1.8 percent), the advertising ban would reduce obesity the least (by 0.9 percent), and the tax on sugary drinks would reduce obesity the most in people aged 13 to 28 (by 2.4 percent).
The researchers said the soda tax was also the best option because it also could generate significant revenue that could be applied to other obesity prevention programs.
The study found that all three strategies would be particularly effective at reducing childhood obesity in black and Hispanic populations, who have higher rates of obesity than other racial/ethnic groups.
Research suggests that almost one-third of American youths between two and 19 are overweight or obese.