Sugary drink sales in Philadelphia fall 38% after city adopted soda tax, study finds
Supporters argue soda taxes can discourage people from indulging in sugary drinks, possibly helping curb obesity, diabetes and other diet-related conditions. Critics say governments should not dictate what people drink, and raising the price in one city will simply cause people to shop elsewhere. Beverage sales inside Philadelphia's city limits dropped by 51% but were partially offset by an increase in sales just outside the city, resulting in a net decrease in soda sales of 38% in the area, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found.
To measure how Philadelphia's tax affected sales of sugary drinks, researchers analyzed scanner data from market research firm IRI during the year before the tax took effect and the year after. They analyzed sales in Philadelphia, neighboring communities and Baltimore, which served as a control group. They did not study people's actual consumption habits or health outcomes.
"When we think about what it's really going to take to reduce chronic disease in this country, including diabetes, obesity and overweight, we need massive interventions and the evidence is really strong this is one that works," said Dr. Kristine Madsen, faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute at the University of California Berkeley, who was not involved with the study but wrote an accompanying editorial.