New study links soda tax to better health

As legislators prepare to close Washington’s $2.6 billion budget gap, partially by imposing a tax on carbonated beverages, a new scientific study confirms the obvious… that taxing soft drinks can make young people healthier.

The study, which collected food intake data from 12,123 young adults for 20 years, found that with every 10 percent increase in the price of a two-liter bottle, people consumed 7 percent fewer calories from soda. They also took in fewer calories over all.

When people faced an even larger increase — $1 for a two-liter bottle of soda, comparable to a proposed tax in Philadelphia — they consumed 124 fewer calories a day, the study found. The lower soda intake was associated with a drop in weight of more than two pounds — and a lower risk for pre-diabetes. The study appears in the March 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Now some might argue against any government effort to influence behavior by distorting the price of one product over another, yet the low price consumers have long enjoyed on sugary beverages is itself a direct result of massive federal corn subsidies and the vast supply of cheap, high fructose corn syrup these policies have created. Washington’s proposed nickel per 12 ounce tax, representing about a 20 to 30 percent increase at the checkout counter, can thus rightly be seen as merely a state effort to partially counter the market distortions created by subsidies at the national level. And considering the measurable public health benefits the study suggests we should expect, this policy seems like a win-win to me.


  1. 2

    Spit in the ocean spews:

    First carbon tax is on carbonated beverages ! , I hope they come up with a better plan than that one this week . Where’s the leadership in Olympia ?

  2. 3

    rhp6033 spews:

    Given our already dysfunctional tax system, it makes more sense than many of the other ideas, including selling off the public rights to drive in preferred lanes to the well-to-do (HOT lanes); increasing regressive sales taxes to beyond the point where the poor are crushed; or cutting back on services to the point where our state makes Mississippi look good.

    Cynical doesn’t like it? Okay, how about real tax reform – abolish the sales & B&O tax and replace them with a true graduated state income tax.

  3. 4

    Sam Adams spews:

    Tax Schmax…Olympia isn’t cutting jack…they INCREASE spended and call the shell game they play “cuts.”

  4. 5

    ConvervativeFirst spews:

    The advertisement displayed when I read the comments was from Soda Stream. Hmmm….

  5. 6

    lauramae spews:

    Candy, gum and soda aren’t food items. They should stop being treated like food items.

  6. 7

    delbert spews:

    Anytime anybody claims “it’s for the children”, I cover my wallet and step in front of the constitution because sure as hell, one or the other is going to get grabbed for.

    How about we fire about 25% of state workers and cut the salaries of the rest by 20% to get them back down to the rest of us.

    A City engineer told me this joke:

    What’s yellow and sleeps 6?
    A City Light van.

  7. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “make young people healthier”

    I need something that makes old rabbits younger. Fucking cute fluffy female bunnies doesn’t seem to do that. It only makes young rabbits.

  8. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 Bullshit. Get your facts straight before popping off. That goes for the Seattle Times, too — the figures they published in the article under their screaming headline about spending increases shows that (depending on which budget is enacted) state spending will increase anywhere from 0% to 0.6% this biennium. Spending is flat, and that’s a fact. When you factor in population growth and inflation, per capita spending is decreasing.

  9. 13

    Michael spews:

    Hmm…. Look for the state ledge. to talk tough, but at the end of the day (session) not tax the stuff high enough to influence behavior. Also, look for the folks in congress to talk tough on subsidies and then continue to give away the store to the corn lobby…

  10. 14

    rhp6033 spews:

    Delbert @ #4 said: “How about we fire about 25% of state workers and cut the salaries of the rest by 20% to get them back down to the rest of us.”

    The only reason why public worker’s pay is beginning to look good is because of the freeze in real wages (after adjusting for inflation) since 1971. Heck, since 2001, I’d wager that most workers haven’t seen any pay raise, whether adjusted for inflation or not.

    Every rescession seems to knock the average worker down a bit more, while the corporate CEO’s take home tens of millions per year while telling the rest of us we have to get adjusted to the “new reality” of temp jobs and low pay with no benefits.

    I don’t mind someone getting pissed about that. Heck, I think we all ought to be a lot more pissed about it. But Delbert’s target is mis-directed. He’s blaming the state workers when he should be blaming the politicians and corporate/financial interests who are profiting from this situation.

    The Delbert viewpoint is similar to the old Russian tale: A peasant goes to local judge. “My neighbor has a cow, and I don’t”. The judge replies: “What do you want me to do about it?” The peasant answers: “Give me a cow, too”. Judge: “There’s only one cow in the whole village. How can I give you a cow? I don’t have one to give to you?” Peasant: Okay, then kill my neighbor’s cow, and we’ll at least be even”.

  11. 15

    proud leftist spews:

    You wouldn’t know the Constitution from a wad of soiled toilet paper. Do you honestly believe a proposed tax on soda pop implicates the Constitution? Which constitution, by the way?

  12. 17

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    …is itself a direct result of massive federal corn subsidies and the vast supply of cheap, high fructose corn syrup these policies have created.

    Yup. Those socialist corn farmers in the fly over states that republicans, wingnuts, tea baggers, conservatives, and glibertarians call “the real America”.

    God bless their sturdy proletarian work ethic and their sacrifices for the socialist cause!

  13. 18

    sarge spews:

    @ Delbert:

    laying off 25% of employees and cutting salaries for the remaining is the worst thing we could do. We would save little as the State would then have to pay the “fired” workers unemployment compensation, and sales tax revenues would fall because of the higher unemployment and lower salaries. We would hurt the economy with little or no net fiscal improvement.

  14. 20

    Mathew "RennDawg" Renner spews:

    So, is the motivation to raise revnue or to stop people from drinking pop. If it is the latter than the tax needs to go. Taxes should exist for only one reason to raise revnue. If they are usedfor any other reason then they are wrong.

  15. 21

    TC spews:

    Well at least this is one that will piss off
    everybody! It will also get collected from EVERYBODY too!

    Unlike Utah that chooses to just pick on the sinners. Another buck a pack for those still purchasing within the state.

  16. 22

    Liberal Scientist spews:

    @17 Moron, er, ass. The primary beneficiaries of our massive corn-related subsidy system are international behemoths like Cargill and Archers Daniel Midland. The prototypical small farmer is a dying species, squeezed out and impoverished by the big boys. And screw your “real America” bullshit – we’re all real Americans, and you thugs should stop trying to tell some of us we’re less “real” than any other.

    @1 Klinical, that is the first correct statement I have ever seen you write – congrats! Perhaps the time you spend here hasn’t been completely wasted! (pardon the pun)

  17. 23

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    @22..but, but, but… Joe Scarborough and Glenn Beck insist that is the real America. Have they lied to me? Or is is the case that ADM and Cargil are the “real americans”? And if the small farmers have been squeezed out, have they not made a noble sacrifice for the greater good?

    This citizen wants to know.

  18. 24

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Here is what real American voters think of Progressivism and it’s leader Obam-Mao–

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010
    The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 25% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18

  19. 25

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    We are sponsoring a group of college kids on Spring Break from Wheaton, Mass. to come here and work on 4 Habitat Houses. They are here.
    Met them yesterday. Great, enthusiastic Christian kids. Hard workers. Gotta go. Beautiful Day. Should be sunny and 60.
    Working with the some other volunteers and the kids. Mrs. C is feeding us.
    Too much fun.

  20. 26

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 25: Kudos to your work for Habitat for Humanity. But I’m surprised you would link up with an organization so closely related to Jimmy Carter.

  21. 27

    Puddybud is Sad my friend died spews:

    Did anyone hear that SMACK Lib Scientist placed on the the fat ProudASS? Of course THE ASS would never say he’s another of those progressive class warfare divider types.




  22. 28

    Truth Teller spews:

    So, I assume diet soda, which has 0 calories, will be exempted from this sugar/obesity tax?

  23. 30

    ArtFart spews:

    I’m one hundred percent with the “Liberal Scientist”. (How one can actually practice science and be a “conservative” escapes me.)

    Get rid of the stupid, archaic corn subsidy that pays ADM and Cargill to pollute the food supply with HFCS, and use the money saved for something that actually benefits people.

    Speaking of HFCS…my wife, in studying her ass off for certification as a Diabetes Educator, found the reason why eating a lot of fructose is so much worse than other carbohydrates. All other starches and sugars get broken down in the body into glucose, which, although not terribly good in overabundance, is at least something the human system knows how to handle–and it’s essential for some things–your brain runs on pure glucose, for instance.

    Fructose, on the other hand, is handled differently. Instead of being used for normal metabolic functions, it’s processed by the liver like ethanol…and turned directly into triglycerides. That’s why the conversion of most of the American food industry to corn sweetener has been so closely followed by an explosion of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

  24. 32

    oldpro spews:

    FYI 26…rhp6033: the only reason Habitat for Humanity is ‘closely associated’ with President Carter and Mrs. Carter is because the press covered their extensive and generous volunteerism with Habitat…so much so that the uninformed often assume that Jimmy Carter started Habitat for Humanity. Nope. They are simply HFH’s most famous volunteers among millions of lesser-knowns! Why don’t you join us?

  25. 33

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    26. rhp6033 spews:

    # 25: Kudos to your work for Habitat for Humanity. But I’m surprised you would link up with an organization so closely related to Jimmy Carter

    Back home for lunch & to get some tools.
    Habitat is a great organization.
    Jimmy Carter is a good man & very influential…although regretably
    a poor President.

    I like it because it’s not a government handout. It’s folks volunteering to HELP people who are trying to help themselves. Yeah, like any program you are going to find some lazy scammers. One house it turned out the guy was off on L&I…while framing his entire house. But it’s rare.
    One of the families we are helping has 4 kids. Dad is a forest firefighter in the summer…but got laid off his regular job. Mom has some health problems as does one of the kids. This guy is just working his ass off. We are finishing the roof today.
    3BR house. Will build-in bunkbeds as the kids must share rooms. Every Square Inch is usable space or storage.

    Gotta go.

  26. 35


    @ 24

    Just curious Cynical… Does Rasmussen have it’s own batch of real Americans, ’cause it sounds kind of out of sync with what all of the other real American voters are saying…

    But entertaining sparring matches aside, good luck with the Habitat project. Sounds like you have a good crew.

  27. 37

    nolaguy spews:

    @28 brings up a great point.

    Will the WA beverage tax apply to diet soft-drinks? They have 0 calories and zero cornstarch.

    Why do they need to be taxed? There’s no subsidy to recoup, nor calories to deter…

  28. 38

    Richard Pope spews:

    So why is the Governor also proposing the 5 cents per 12 ounces soft drink tax to apply to DIET soda as well?

    And why is the Governor proposing a 1 cent per ounce (2.4 times the tax rate on soda pop) tax on bottled water, which contains ZERO calories?

    I have to agree with Ross Hunter on this one. It is just plain STUPID!

    Limit sin taxes to things that are clearly harmful, like alcohol and tobacco!

  29. 40

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    @27: Pudwhacker, there is a class war going on in this country. It is a war of the rich against everybody else. Currently they are winning. This must warm the cockles of your cold dead heart.

    Alas, if you are to be believed (a proposition of dubious veracity)none of these winners will get to go to heaven, and you will have to spend your eternity there talking with St. Peter, ML King, and Cindy Shehan. John D. Rockefeller will not be there handing out shiny new dimes.

    I sincerely wish you the best, but your sojourn in Eternity may not be to your liking.

    PS: Love butter, and I’m not fat. I won the skinny person birth lottery :)

    Lib scientist must have been having a bad day. He misread my post badly. But that’s the internet tubes for you.