Philadelphia soda tax could help prevent diabetes, avert deaths

A three-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages proposed in Philadelphia could help 36,000 people per year avoid obesity, prevent 2,280 annual cases of diabetes, avert about 730 deaths over a decade, and save almost $200 million in health spending, according to an analysis from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“It is just a total winner of a policy from a public health perspective,” said Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology at Harvard Chan School and director of the Harvard Prevention Research Center, who led the analysis, in an April 27, 2016 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The city of Philadelphia estimated that the tax could also generate an additional $400 million over five years.

While some have criticized the proposed tax because it would have a disproportionate financial impact on lower-income people, Gortmaker emphasized that it could also benefit them if it leads them to cut back on soda.

“Right now, they are spending of a lot of their money on sugar-sweetened beverages that are, frankly, killing them,” he told the Inquirer.

Read the Philadelphia Inquirer article: Harvard study: Soda tax would make Phila. healthier

Learn more

Sugary Drinks (The Nutrition Source)

Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES)