Can Sugary Beverage Taxes Cut Child Obesity?

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Can Sugary Beverage Taxes Cut Child Obesity?
Can Sugary Beverage Taxes Cut Child Obesity?

(HealthDay News) — Simulations demonstrate that an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) would be the most effective policy for reducing child obesity, according to research published online August 26 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Alyson H. Kristensen, MPH, of the Partnership for Prevention in Washington, D.C., and colleagues performed a microsimulation analysis to estimate the projected impact of three federal policies on the prevalence of childhood obesity after 20 years of implementation. Afterschool physical activity programs, a $0.01/ounce SSB excise tax, and a ban on child-directed fast-food television advertisements, were the three policies selected from 26 recommended policies.

The researchers found that, among children aged 6–12 years, the microsimulation model predicted that obesity would be reduced the most by afterschool physical activity programs (1.8 percentage points) and the least by a ban on child-directed fast-food television advertising (0.9 percentage points). Among adolescents aged 13–18 years, the model predicted that obesity would be reduced the most by the SSB excise tax (2.4 percentage points). Projections suggested that all three of these policies would reduce childhood obesity more among blacks and Hispanics than among whites. The SSB excise tax would have the greatest effect on reducing racial disparities in the prevalence of childhood obesity.

"Although the model predicts that each of these policies would reduce obesity in children and adolescents, the one cent tax on SSBs also has other characteristics that make it the best option," Kristensen said in a statement. "The tax reduces obesity while at the same time generating significant revenue for additional obesity prevention activities."

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