Originally published by 2 Minute Medicine® (view original article). Reused on AccessMedicine with permission.

1. Taxing sweetened beverages resulted in decreased weekly consumption of soda in high school students.

2. Soda tax more significantly altered soda consumption in adolescents who were overweight or obese.

Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)

Soda is a main source of added sugars in a United States (US) diet and is heavily consumed by adolescents and young adults. Given the rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes in adolescents, strategies to decrease dietary sugar intake is necessary. However, whether the implementation of a tax on sweetened beverages can decrease soda consumption in adolescents is not well established.

This study aimed to assess if there is an association between the implementation of a tax on sweetened beverages with consumption of soda in high school students. Weekly soda intake was assessed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US (a city with a sweetened beverage tax) and 7 comparison cities around the US without a beverage tax from September 2013 to December 2019. Biennial survey results were gathered from 86,928 high school students (49% female). The primary outcome was self-reported servings of sodas consumed per week.

After implementation of the soda tax on January 1, 2017, weekly soda consumption decreased by 1.5 servings per week in Philadelphia and only 0.6 servings per week in other cities during this same period. The difference-in-differences pre- and post-soda tax was significant in the overall population as well as in Hispanic/Latinx students, but not in Black or White students. Lastly, when stratified by weight, the difference-in-differences was not significant in normal weight students but was in obese or overweight students. However, this study was limited in the use of self-reported data and infrequent data acquisition. Nonetheless, the potential implication of this study may support future work that can examine the long-term effect of soda tax on outcomes most relevant to decreased soda consumption, such as rate of obesity of diabetes in adolescents.

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