Philadelphia’s ‘soda tax’ cut the number of sugar-sweetened beverages high school students drank per week by 30%, study finds

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  • Researchers looked at the impact of Philadelphia’s soda tax, which was implemented in January 2017 on teen consumption
  • Weekly number of soft drinks per week fell from 5.4 before tax to 3.9 per week after tax
  • White students saw the biggest drop from 3.6 drinks per week to 2.8 per week, a decrease of 38%
  • Obese students also had 32% fewer fizzy drinks, which decreased from 5.5 per week to 3.7 per week

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A new study finds that a tax on sugary drinks cuts the number of servings high school students drink each week.

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia looked at the link between sweetened beverage taxes and teens’ consumption of soda and other soft drinks.

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They found that the number of weekly sugar-sweetened drinks (SSBs) consumed by teens dropped by about 30 percent.

The findings suggest that the policy has not only helped cut sales on fizzy drinks, but may be effective in combating rising rates of childhood obesity.

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Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia looked at the impact of the city’s soda tax, which was implemented on teen consumption in January 2017 (file image)

The weekly number of soft drinks per week fell from 5.4 before tax to 3.9 per week compared to non-tax cities.

The weekly number of soft drinks per week fell from 5.4 before tax to 3.9 per week compared to non-tax cities.

Berkeley, Calif., was the first US city to tax SSBs, settling on a penny-per-ounce tax that took effect in March 2015.

A year after the tax was implemented, sales of sugary drinks fell by 9.6 percent, while their sales in surrounding areas increased by 6.9 percent.

The city’s water sales after tax increased by 15.6 percent, and sales of other non-tax beverages such as unsweetened tea, milk and fruit juices also increased.

Since then, several other cities have imposed similar taxes, including Albany, Oakland and San Francisco in California; Boulder, Colorado; District of Columbia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Seattle, Washington.

Philadelphia’s soda tax was passed in January 2017 and is 1.5 cents an ounce.

The City of Brotherly Love is the only city (aside from Washington, D.C.) to tax any drinks with real or artificial sweeteners, which means diet sodas are taxed as well.

With childhood obesity rising – much of which is due to added sugars – the researchers wanted to see whether the SSB tax helped curb soda consumption among high school students.

for study. published in JAMA PediatricsThe team looks at data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), which collects surveys from high school students across the US

The researchers compared self-reported soda consumption with self-reported milk and 100 percent juice consumption.

Before the tax, high school students in Philadelphia were drinking an average of 5.4 sodas per week.

After tax, this fell to an average of 3.9 soft drinks per week, a 27 percent drop.

Consumption declined across all races/ethnicities, with white students seeing the biggest drop from 3.6 drinks per week to 2.8, a decrease of 38 percent.

The number of fizzy drinks also fell from 5.5 per week in obese students to 3.7 per week, a 32 percent drop.

Meanwhile, although the total number of 100 percent juice servings also declined, they were higher than in cities without soda taxes.

White students saw the biggest drop from 3.6 drinks per week to 2.8 per week, a decrease of 38%.  Obese students also had 32% fewer fizzy drinks, which decreased from 5.5 per week to 3.7 per week

White students saw the biggest drop from 3.6 drinks per week to 2.8 per week, a decrease of 38%. Obese students also had 32% fewer fizzy drinks, which decreased from 5.5 per week to 3.7 per week

After tax, Philadelphia high school students were drinking 4.9 servings of juice and juice per week, compared to 4.5 in cities without the tax, meaning 0.5 more servings were consumed in Philadelphia.

There was no statistical significance in the number of weekly servings of milk consumed before versus after tax.

In 2018, 19.3 percent of children between the ages of two and 19 in the US were obese, according to the CDC, the latest date available.

This is an increase of 14 percent from the 16.9 percent reporting the same thing in 2019.

“We observed that a citywide sweetened beverage tax was associated with a significant reduction in soda consumed by high school students in Philadelphia,” the authors wrote.

‘To our knowledge, this is the largest study to date to assess the association of the sweetened beverage tax with soda consumption among adolescents.’

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