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The effects of soda taxes on adolescent sugar intake and blood sugar

Brandon Restrepo and Jonathan H. Cantor

Health Economics, 2020, vol. 29, issue 11, 1422-1434

Abstract: Intake of added sugars is high in the US adolescent population, with sugar‐sweetened beverages being the primary source. We contribute to the literature by providing the first estimates of the impacts of soda sales taxes, which are commonly levied in the US states, on the total daily sugar intake and blood sugar of adolescents aged 12–19 years. Using a restricted‐use version of the 1999–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and exploiting within‐state variation in soda sales tax rates over time, our results indicate that adolescent soft drink demand is tax‐sensitive. Consistent with prior research using NHANES data, we find that adolescents reduce calories consumed from soft drinks when faced with a rise in soda sales taxes, but they offset this reduction with an increase in calorie intake from milk drinks. In accordance with this substitution behavior, we find that soda sales taxes cause small and insignificant changes in the total daily calorie intake, total daily sugar intake, or blood sugar levels of adolescents.

Date: 2020
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