Taking the Bitter with the Sweet: Soda Taxes as a Potential Policy Remedy to Obesity in the United States
Ugaz, Jorge I
Policymakers have explored a variety of potential policy interventions to help combat the obesity epidemic in the United States. One type of policy solution is levying a tax on fattening foods or drinks, including sugar sweetened beverages. This paper explores the relationship between body mass index and existing state level soda taxes to see if these existing soda taxes, intended for revenue generation, are also associated with lower BMI, and whether higher soda taxes could potentially be an effective policy intervention for reducing obesity in the U.S. Using the Center for Disease Control's Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System survey and soda tax information from Bridging the Gap to conduct ordinary least squares analysis, the results show that existing state level soda taxes may have a small, but negligible association with body mass index. Policy implications and recommendations for further research are provided.
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