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Study says soda tax would reduce weight and add revenues

Obesity is one of the biggest problems in this country, so people are searching for innovative ideas to attack the problem.

One possible approach is to tax sodas and other sugary drinks. It seems logical, but of course one has to deal with the food and beverage lobbyists. Also, some Americans hate the idea of the government dictating anything, though here it’s just a tax to cover the costs we as a society pay for these beverages.

A recent study, however, provides some ammunition for proponents of the soda tax.

Millions of people would lose about a pound or more a year if large taxes were tacked onto regular soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages such as sport drinks and fruit drinks, a new analysis shows.

A soda tax of 20% or 40% would generate about $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion in annual tax revenue. The 40% tax would cost the average household about $28 a year, the research shows.

“If the tax money was used to serve healthier foods in schools and build parks and recreation centers, it could lead to even more weight loss,” says the study’s lead researcher, Eric Finkelstein, a health economist and associate professor of health services at Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School.

The idea of a substantial tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages has been the subject of hot debate in recent years among national, state and local policymakers. Public health advocates have been pushing for a hefty tax as a way to reduce consumption of these products to help people lose weight and become healthier.

Currently, two-thirds of people in this country are overweight or obese, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other health problems. Obesity costs the country roughly $147 billion a year in increased medical expenses, according to another study by Finkelstein.

The soda tax seems like an obvious solution, and perhaps this study and others like it will start to tip the balance.

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