Sugary Beverage Tax May Be Most Effective in Reducing Child Obesity

(HealthDay News) — Simulations demonstrate that an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would be the most effective policy for reducing child obesity, according to research published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Alyson H. Kristensen, MPH, of the Partnership for Prevention in Washington, D.C., and colleagues performed a microsimulation analysis to estimate the projected impact of three federal policies on the prevalence of childhood obesity after 20 years of implementation. 

Afterschool physical activity programs, a $0.01/ounce sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax and a ban on child-directed fast-food television advertisements, were the three policies selected from 26 recommended policies.

The researchers found that, among children aged 6 to 12 years, the microsimulation model predicted that obesity would be reduced the most by afterschool physical activity programs (1.8 percentage points) and the least by a ban on child-directed fast-food television advertising (0.9 percentage points). Among adolescents aged 13 to 18 years, the model predicted that obesity would be reduced the most by the sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax (2.4 percentage points). 

Projections suggested that all three of these policies would reduce childhood obesity more among blacks and Hispanics than among whites. The sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax would have the greatest effect on reducing racial disparities in the prevalence of childhood obesity.

“Although the model predicts that each of these policies would reduce obesity in children and adolescents, the one cent tax on SSBs also has other characteristics that make it the best option,” Kristensen said in a statement. “The tax reduces obesity while at the same time generating significant revenue for additional obesity prevention activities.”


  1. Kristensen AH et al. Am J Prev Med. 2014;doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2014.07.011.