Making A Dent in the Obesity Equation via Coupling Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes with Fruit and Vegetable Subsidies


Sugar-sweetened beverages
Fruit and Vegetable Subsidies


Obesity rates continue to rise in children and adults alike in the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and economic well-being. Many factors have contributed to the obesity equation, including the widespread availability and appeal of ultra-processed food and drink. Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) represent one such drink, as a critical examination of the available evidence reveals a clear link between their consumption and increased risks of obesity and related conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Taxing SSB purchases therefore presents a potentially valuable means of making a dent in the contribution of one key risk factor to the obesity equation, though the beverage industry has fought against the enactment of these taxes and has instead promoted a generally unclear public health stance on SSBs. This paper explores existing SSB excise taxes that have been implemented in recent years, focusing especially on Philadelphia’s tax as a case study for examining the behavioral changes associated with SSB taxes and the management of SSB tax revenue. It then suggests that SSB tax revenue be directly funneled into the subsidization of fruits and vegetables to maximize the obesity-fighting potential of these relatively novel excise taxes.
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