Penn study: Philadelphia drink tax cut sweetened drink sales 38 percent

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Penn Medicine researchers said the first year of Philadelphia's soda tax translated to 83 million cans of soda in reduced sales of sweetened beverages.

A study released Tuesday said the 1.5 cent per ounce tax reduced sales of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages by a net 38 percent in its first year.

The study, led by Christina Roberto, Ph.D., of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, adds to evidence suggesting beverage taxes can help reduce the consumption of sugary drinks.

The data was obtained from Information Resources, Inc., which tracks and compiles sales numbers from U.S. retailers.

The study said between January 2016 and December 2017, there was a 59 percent drop in taxes beverage sales at supermarkets, a 40 percent reduction at big box stores and a 13 percent drop at pharmacies.

However, sales in zip codes bordering Philadelphia did increase, offsetting some of the drop in the city.

Overall, sweetened beverage sales declined 38 percent.

And in a study published earlier this year, the Penn Medicine researchers found no change in filings for unemployment claims in the Philadelphia industries potentially affected by the soda tax.

Opponents of the fee say it has caused the loss of hundreds of jobs to beverage distributors and supermarkets.

The tax has been seen as a tool to bring down obesity.

In Philadelphia, 68 percent of adults and 41 percent of children are obese or overweight.

Beverage taxes are now on the books in 7 U.S. cities and statewide taxes are being considered in Connecticut and Colorado.

Mexico and Brazil have used them as nationwide tools to slow down obesity.
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