California became the first city to introduce the new sugar tax that profoundly decreased the soda consumption in the area.
The tax on sugar-sweetened beverages which went into effect last year in Berkeley seems to demonstrate the expected outcomes.
According to a new study, in some neighborhoods, the consumption of sugary drinks decreased by 20 percent and many residents switched to water. This study also mentioned that the reduction of soda consumption could also be influenced by the programs that were focusing on raising awareness about the health impact of sugary drinks.
However, the American Beverage Association stated that the study has flaws, and there is no proof the tax has had a calculable impact on public health.
Because the obesity and diabetes rates are higher in low-income neighborhoods, the researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, focused mainly on these areas. It was proved that the increased prices of the sugary beverages have a bigger impact on purchasing patterns in these sectors.
The conclusions were based on interviews with Berkeley citizens in 2014 and then again between April and August 2015. During this period, the consumption of tap water or bottled water rose with 63% in Berkeley and with 19% in San Francisco and Oakland. The study followed to see how frequently the respondents drank different types of beverages.
More cities are expected to follow Berkeley’s footsteps as San Francisco and Oakland are supposed to vote on a penny-per-ounce levy on sugary drinks in November ballot initiatives. Also, Philadelphia’s city council approved a tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on sweetened drinks in June, becoming the second U.S. city to pass such a measure.
As expected, beverage giants Coca-Cola Co., Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. and PepsiCo Inc. have considered this measure unfair as they represent less than 10% of caloric intake. The companies have spent more than $100 million to silence proposed taxes in more than two dozen cities and states since 2009. They also intend to confront Philadelphia’s planned tax in court before it takes effect in January.
The study revealed that the consumption of regular soda dropped 26% in Berkeley’s low-income neighborhoods after the tax. Moreover, energy drinks and sports drinks declined by 29 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Sweetened fruit drinks, coffee, and tea decreased by 13%.
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