By Ounce or by Calorie: The Differential Effects of Alternative Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Strategies
This paper examines the differential effects that taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) by calories and by ounce have on beverage demand. Based on sales data from supermarkets across four New York state regions, researchers predict that a calorie-based SSB tax is more effective than an ounce-based tax because it achieves more calorie reduction with a smaller loss in consumer surplus. A 0.04 cent per-calorie tax on SSBs is predicted to reduce the consumption of beverage calories by 9.3 percent versus a reduction of 8.6 percent from a half-cent per-ounce tax. Applying this percentage to beverages purchased from a variety of retail outlets, and assuming consumer purchasing behavior remains consistent across all venues, a 0.04 cent per-calorie tax would reduce total per person consumption by about 5,800 calories annually, while a half-cent per-ounce tax would achieve less of a reduction. A calorie-based beverage tax cost an estimated $1.40 less in consumer surplus loss than an ounce-based tax, per 3,500 beverage calories reduced.
Health advocates have increasingly argued for taxes on calorically sweetened beverages. However, there is little empirical research that evaluates the public health and fiscal impacts of such taxes while simultaneously accounting for consumers’ and suppliers’ likely changes in economic behavior in response to a targeted tax. The aim of this … More
U.S. states have introduced bills requiring sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to display health warning labels. This study examined how warning labels influence parents and which labels are most effective. Over 2,000 demographically and educationally diverse parents of children ages 6 to 11 participated in an online survey. Parents were randomized to … More
Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)—which include all drinks with added sugar, such as soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks—is strongly linked to obesity and a number of other negative health consequences. This issue brief is based on a review of the literature on this topic and examines the evidence on: … More