Americans are consuming more sugar, half of it coming from high-sugar drinks

Americans are consuming more sugar, half of it coming from high-sugar drinks

Earlier this week, the American Medical Association, the largest association of medical doctors in the US, voted on a proposal to support a tax on high-sugar beverages.

Here, just-drinks looks at some of the findings of the report into the effects of a sugar tax.

  • The report claims that a penny-per-ounce excise tax would decrease sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by between 10% and 25%. It is unclear, the report goes on, if consumers would substitute other high-calorie foods and beverages for the drinks
  • A penny-per-ounce could reduce the number of overweight and obese people in the US by 5%, reducing medical costs by US$17bn over ten years, the report claims
  • The report also notes that, as of 1 July, 2011, sugar-sweetened sodas were taxed in 35 states, with 40 taxing sugar-sweetened sodas sold in vending machines. Most of the taxes were sales taxes
  • The average tax was 5.2% and had a minimal effect on obesity levels, as the price increase was "too small to be noticed"
  • The report says that roughly one-third to one-half of consumers support a tax on high-sugar soft drinks
  • Half of Americans over two years old consume sugar-sweetened beverages on any given day, not including sweetened teas or flavoured milk
  • Added caloric sweeteners in the US food supply increased 27% between 1966 and 2005. Increased consumption of soft drinks and fruit drinks contributed to more than half of this increase
  • The report aruges that most high-sugar drinks have relatively high profit margins and manufacturers could absorb the cost of an excise tax. It says that effective tax proposals would have to clearly specify that the tax be passed on to consumers. 
  • The report claims that the high sugar and calorie content of 100% fruit juices “remains a concern” but said their nutritional value could help overcome other health problems