Soda tax reduces consumption among boys but not girls

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Taxes on soft drinks reduce the consumption of boys, but not girls, according to a new study of more than 11,000 young people.

Taxes on sodas and other sugary drinks (SSBs) are levied by governments to reduce consumption and prevent obesity while increasing revenue. Eight U.S. cities and more than 45 countries have passed the taxes, which in the United States amount to a penny or two per ounce.

These taxes are relatively new and their impact on SSB consumption is unclear. In addition, there has been little evidence of the impact of these taxes on youth, or any evidence at all from non-Western nations that have historically been underrepresented in economic research.

New research conducted by economics professor John Cawley from the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy contributes to the evidence on this issue by studying how SSB taxes affect consumption and body mass index (BMI) in adolescents, and by providing evidence from a not – Western nation.

Cawley and collaborators Michael Daly (a doctoral candidate in policy analysis and management) and Rebecca Thornton (professor of economics at the University of Illinois) published the results of their research on March 16 in an article in the journal Health Economics.

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Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean that passed a soda tax in 2013, while the Maldives, another island nation in the region, did not. The researchers used data on youth from the World Health Organization’s Global School-Based Student Health Survey to compare changes in outcomes in the two nations. The results indicate that the Mauritius tax reduced the likelihood that boys would consume soda by 11%, but there was no detectable effect on their consumption rate or on BMI. There were no detectable effects on any of these results for girls. The reason for the gender difference is unclear, but may be due to girls being less price sensitive in their demand for SSBs.

“This study’s finding that the tax reduces the likelihood of boys eating SSBs is some of the first evidence anywhere that SSB taxes can reduce youth spending,” Cawley said. “We continue to study these taxes in different countries and look forward to building the evidence base using data from around the globe.”

AMA adopts policy to reduce consumption of sugary drinks More information: John Cawley et al., The effect of beverage taxes on youth consumption and body mass index: Evidence from Mauritius, Health Economics (2022). DOI: 10.1002 / hec.4497

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Provided by Cornell University

Quote: Soda tax reduces consumption among boys but not girls (2022, April 4) Retrieved April 4, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-04-soda-tax-consumption-boys-girls.html

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