Analysis Suggests Soda Tax Could Save Billions in Healthcare Costs

Every year, Americans drink 13.8 billion gallons of soda, fruit punch, sweet tea, sports drinks, and other sweetened beverages—a mass consumption of sugar that is fueling soaring obesity and diabetes rates in the United States.

Now a group of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH) and Columbia University have analyzed the effect of a nationwide tax on these sugary drinks.

They estimate slapping a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages would prevent nearly 100,000 cases of heart disease, 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 deaths every year.

“You would also prevent 240,000 cases of diabetes per year,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an associate professor of medicine and of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF and acting director of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at SFGH.

In addition to $13 billion in direct tax revenue, Bibbins-Domingo and her colleagues estimated that such a tax would save the public $17 billion per year in healthcare-related expenses due to the decline of obesity-related diseases.

“Our hope is that these types of numbers are useful for policy makers to weigh decisions,” she said.

Consumption of beverages high in calories but poor in nutritional value is the number one source of added sugar and excess calories in the American diet. Sugar- sweetened drinks are linked to type 2 diabetes and weight gain.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed reducing the intake of these beverages as one of its chief obesity prevention strategies in 2009, and several states and cities, including California and New York City, are already considering such taxes.

The analysis by Bibbins-Domingo and her colleagues is among the first study to generate concrete estimates of the health benefits and cost savings of such a tax. They modeled these benefits by taking into account how many sodas and sugary beverages Americans drink every year and estimating how much less they would consume if a penny-per-ounce tax were imposed on these drinks. Economists have estimated that such a tax would reduce consumption by 10 to 15 percent over a decade.

They then modeled how this reduction would play out in terms of reducing the burdens of diabetes, heart disease and their associated healthcare costs.


  1. Here we go. Where does the incursion of Big Obama government end? Is red meat next? I mean, Michelle Obama says that’s bad for you, which is all well and fine, except for the fact she was spotted on her taxpayer provided vacation stuffing her face with pork lion and ribs at Alan Wong’s in Honolulu. Meanwhile, back on the East Coast, Hussain was spotted with a stack of pizza’s once Michelle left town too.

    Just another way to reach into your wallets from the “Do as I say and not as I do” bunch in the White House

    • Gotta love how Sarge addresses the main point of the article. Oh wait. He doesn’t. Instead, he manages to represent all that is wrong with both Clarke County and our nation as a whole. If they aren’t convenient for us, let’s just warp & mangle the real issues at hand to make them serve our own political purposes! That’s what Jefferson, Madison & co. had in mind!

      Fact is that soda is EXTREMELY hazardous to human health in the quantities we consume it, and it probably makes sense to leave politics aside in an effort to curb its use.

      Oh, and Sarge, pretty sure pork isn’t red meat. Nor is pizza.

      • I’ve addressed it quite adequately, I believe. Government, in particular the one that’s in the White House for another 10 months, is more than content to tax the masses in order to;

        1) Alter a behavior they believe is bad for you and

        2) Make money on a behavior they know most people won’t give up

        Case in point; after Obama became elected, he vowed not to raise taxes on the middle and lower class. Then he turned around and raised the taxes on cigerettes by a buck or more. Now both the Federal and state governments see a way to add to the coffers instead of cutting spending.

        As for sodas and other junk food causing added health costs, where was all this concern say, 20 -30 years ago, when kids chowed down on such wonderful stuff as “Super Sugar Crisps” cereal and the like? Why were there fewer fat kids then? And how in the world did people ever make it in the world with all those transfats? Nowadays, seemingly every food you see is “sugar free”, “gluten free” and taste free as well, but people are still fatter. Heck, my grandmother, who lived into her late 80’s, fried chicken almost every night and slathered gravey all over that and the potatos. She was average weight. How did she do that without the government regualting her food content and telling her to exercise? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

        The answer lies not in the food, it’s in the fact that a lot of us,especially kids today, are lazy and don’t go outside. X-Box and American Idol have glued a lot of people to the couch. When you don’t exercise at all, it doesn’t really matter what you eat, it’s gonna stick.

        Regardless, taxing “bad” foods is nothing more than a money grab and sets a precedent to tax anything that a government bureacrat thinks is bad for you.

        Oh, here’s Michelles menu at Alan Wong’s

        Everyone enjoyed the special 5-course tasting menu. Wong typically offers tasting menus at the restaurant, but this one was specially created for the President: “The tasting menu normally offered to regular diners is not being offered tonight due to demands on the kitchen,” pool reported. The Presidential tasting menu featured the “Sassey Salad” and bacon-wrapped pork loin. There was also an appetizer of 3 kinds of special butter, sourced from 3 different local dairies. The tasting menu was priced at $75 per person, or $105 with wine pairings.

        Bacon wrapped pork lion. And three types of BUTTER

        Wonder if that was transfat free?

        Like I said, “Do as I say and not as I do”

        • Dude…you really have a sad obsession with running down the President and his wife.

          “20-30 years ago” would put your ranting within the administrations of Reagan, GHW Bush, and Clinton…and I think there were efforts to get folks to not eat such sugar-laden cereals, etc. I agree with you on the point about the effect that Xbox (and Playstation and other games) and TV. but I’d also offer up the Internet and its huge growth as a factor.

          That said…it’s the job of parents to monitor what their kids eat; adults…well…that’s a different story.

          • Another View says:

            Ronald Reagan never advocated that government at any level interfere with the people’s freedom to consume food and beverages of their choice. Indeed, when Ronald Reagan was President, we maintained the freedom to smoke in our offices, bars and restaurants.

            I miss Ronald Reagan. And I hate the “nanny state”.

    • Mr Mister says:

      Kind of like the repubs hiring illeagals to do their housework.

  2. Voice of Reason says:

    Abraham Lincoln said that the role of government was to do for people what they couldn’t do for themselves. Perhap today he might say “what they wouldn’t do for themselves”.
    People much smarter than me have begun arguing that the real gateway drug is not pot but rather sugar.

  3. clarke conservative says:

    Like cigarettes this will be a regressive tax on the ignorance of the poor. This tax will fall on those people, mostly families with young children, who are least able to aborb the penalties of yet another nanny state, protect you from yourself, tax.

    If the average family of four consumes 1 gallon of soda / fruit drinks per day (2 pints per individual) this will place an additional tax burden of $365 per year on those who can least afford it.

  4. Isn’t water cheaper than soda? I guess I would go for the water instead of soda if this tax was really going to cut into my budget, I am from a bit of the older generation my parents never really allowed soda to be purchased except for special occasions so I really never developed a taste for them. But a gallon a day for a family of 4 seems like a lot of soda being drunk. Anyway last I heard it was a free country so if you wish to drink soda the drink soda. Dentists love soda drinkers too.

  5. They estimate slapping a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages would prevent nearly 100,000 cases of heart disease, 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 deaths every year.

    Please explain to me how just adding a tax to these drinks would prevent all these medical issues?
    Don’t you have to stop using the products To have an effect on the health issues. Our goverment has been taxing and raising taxes on beer, wine and ciggs for a long time. I wonder how much of an effect this has had on medical issues. The folks that quit smoking more than likely have to deal with large weight gains. I agree with Sarge, Just another way for federal,state and local goverments to make ends meet. always at the tax payers expense.

  6. if you have Netflix or Amazon prime, rent “King Korn” That will stop anyone from drinking non diet soda in a minute.

  7. Another View says:

    WHY OH WHY can the government just not let us be? Drink soft drinks, don’t drink soft drinks; smoke, don’t smoke; eat butter, don’t eat butter–IT SHOULD BE A MATTER OF FREE CHOICE!