A penny an ounce to fight heart attacks?

A study in the latest edition of Health Affairs has found that a national penny an ounce excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) would prevent 95,000 coronary heart events, 8,000 strokes, 2.4 million diabetes person-years and 26,000 premature deaths while avoiding more than $17 billion in medical costs between 2010 and 2020. SSBs are a group of drinks that have added artificial sweeteners including soda, sweetened iced teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices and flavored water.

The study, by researchers at Columbia University, the University of San Francisco and Virginia Tech, found that a penny an ounce SSB excise tax would decrease consumption of these beverages among 25-64 year olds by 15%. The average American consumes approximately 70,000 “empty calories” from SSBs each year.

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