Soda Tax Health Benefits Would Help Minorities the Most

Monday, November 05, 2012

On the eve of votes in Richmond and El Monte on taxation of sugar-sweetened sodas, a new study says if the tax were applied statewide, the danger of diabetes and heart disease would plummet and be most acutely felt among the ethnic groups at highest risk.

Diabetes would decline 8% among Latinos and blacks as a result of a penny-per-ounce tax and the accompanying reduction in soda consumption, the study said. More than 70% of El Monte residents are Latino, and 63% of Richmond residents are black or Latino.

The American Beverage Association contends that there is no evidence to suggest a health benefit from a soda tax, and opponents of the two local measures have poured millions of dollars into campaigns to defeat them. They argue that complying with the new ordinances would be a bureaucratic burden to store owners and a financial hardship for low-income customers, not to mention a denial of the right to make one’s own food choices.

The California study, which has not yet been formally released, builds on an earlier study that projected $17 billion in health care savings over a decade if a soda tax were applied nationally. There would be 876,000 fewer obese Americans, 30,000 fewer heart attacks and 8,000 fewer strokes, according to the study. Americans would lose 1 pound per year.

California lawmakers rejected legislation in 2010 that would have instituted a soda tax and efforts across the country have been beaten back by heavily-financed resistance from the food and beverage industry. Opponents of the Richmond measure have poured $2.5 million into the campaign compared to $69,000 by supporters.

Philadelphia came close to passing soda restrictions and New York City is poised to institute a ban on the sale of sugary drinks in 16-ounce containers. The New York Board of Health approved the ban in September and it is scheduled to take effect in March 2013 unless blocked by a judge.    

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Study: Soda Tax Would Boost Health of Latinos, Blacks (by Christina Jewett, California Watch)

Soda Industry Pours Millions into Campaign to Defeat Richmond Tax (by Matt Drange, The Bay Citizen)

Health Benefits, Particularly in High Risk Populations, Projected from an Excise Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Intake in California (American Public Health Association)

A Penny-Per-Ounce Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Would Cut Health and Cost Burdens of Diabetes (Health Affairs)

Soda Industry Drowns Richmond Tax Foes in Dollars (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Leave a comment