The Checkup: Soda Tax Study Projects Huge Health Savings Over 10 Years

A new study found that a soda tax could cut cases of diabetes, premature death, stroke and heart attack, as well as save (and earn) big bucks.

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• Ah, the soda tax—that pesky little fly that just won’t go away, no matter how hard voters and legislatures (and Philly’s City Council members) try. A new study out this month in the health-policy journal Health Affairs found that, over the course of a decade, a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks would reduce consumption of such beverages by 15 percent, thereby reducing new cases of diabetes by 2.6 percent, resulting in 867,000 fewer obese adults, and preventing 95,000 coronary heart events, 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 premature deaths. Not enough numbers for you? The projection also found that such a tax would avoid more than $17 billion in medical costs and generate $13 billion in annual tax revenue. Beyond these savings, what startled me most about the study was this paragraph:

According to industry data on the US nonalcoholic beverage market, Americans consumed 13.8 billion gallons of sugar-sweetened beverages in 2009, or approximately 45 gallons per capita annually of soda, fruit punch, sweetened tea, sports drinks, and all other beverages with added caloric sweeteners. These drinks provided approximately 70,000 “empty calories” per person. Every twenty-ounce bottle of a typical sugar-sweetened beverage contains nearly seventeen teaspoons of sugar. These beverages represent the largest source of added sugar and excess calories in the American diet and have been linked to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

Read the full study here. Trust me—it’s really fascinating. Who knew a penny could wield so much power?

Here’s something to chuckle about if your boss is particularly short. A recent study found that people in positions of power often feel taller than they actually are.

• And, finally, a study which revealed how stress sets off the immune system. Researchers aren’t sure how stress actually makes a person sick, but apparently it activates parts of the immune system and causes inflammation in areas that have been linked to conditions like cancer and diabetes. Yikes. More here.