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The Effects of a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax: Consumption, Calorie Intake, Obesity, and Tax Burden by Income

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Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages has been proposed as a means to reduce calorie intake, improve diet and health, and generate revenue that governments can use to address the obesity-caused health and economic burden. Two beverage demand systems were estimated using beverage purchase data for high-income and low-income households. Using the estimated demand elasticities we examined the impacts of a hypothetical 20-percent effective tax rate (or about 0.5 cent per ounce) on beverage consumption, calorie intake, tax revenue and burden. Our results suggest that such a tax would induce an average reduction of 35 and 41 calories a day among adults and children, respectively. The tax burden is found to be regressive, although representing less than one percent of household spending on food and beverages. Tax revenue is estimated to be $5.8 billion using 2007 population estimates.


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