A Penny-Per-Ounce Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Would Cut Health and Cost Burdens of Diabetes

We can prevent unnecessary, potentially life-threatening conditions—and help avoid billions of dollars in medical costs over a decade—by enacting a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, this study finds.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are a major contributor to the U.S. obesity and diabetes epidemics.

Using the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model, researchers examined the potential impact on health and health spending of a nationwide penny-per-ounce excise tax on these beverages. They projected that the tax would reduce consumption of sugary beverages by 15 percent among adults ages 25 to 64.

Between 2010 and 2020, the tax would prevent:

  • 2.4 million diabetes person-years;
  • 95,000 coronary heart events;
  • 8,000 strokes; and
  • 26,000 premature deaths.

In addition, it would help avoid more than $17 billion in medical costs and generate approximately $13 billion in annual tax revenue. In short, a modest tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could reduce the adverse health and cost burdens of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.