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The Public Health and Economic Benefits of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages


Brownell, Kelly D.; Farley, Thomas; Willett, Walter C.; Popkin, Barry M.; Chaloupka, Frank J.; Thompson, Joseph W.; & Ludwig, David S. (2009). The Public Health and Economic Benefits of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages. New England Journal of Medicine, 361(16), 1599-1605. PMCID: PMC3140416


Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been linked to risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,1–3 making a compelling case for reduced consumption. SSBs are beverages which contain added naturally-derived caloric sweeteners such as sucrose (table sugar), high-fructose corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrates, all of which have similar metabolic effects.
Taxation has been proposed as a means for reducing intake and thereby lowering health care costs, as well as for generating revenue that governments can use for health programs.4–7 Presently, 33 states have sales taxes on soft drinks (mean = 5.2%), but the taxes are too small to affect consumption and the revenues are not earmarked for programs related to health. This paper examines trends in consumption of SSBs, evidence linking these beverages to adverse health outcomes, and approaches to designing a tax system that could improve nutrition and help the nation recover health care costs associated with SSB consumption.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

New England Journal of Medicine


Brownell, Kelly D.
Farley, Thomas
Willett, Walter C.
Popkin, Barry M.
Chaloupka, Frank J.
Thompson, Joseph W.
Ludwig, David S.