MADISON, Wis. (CBS SF) — A study released in the journal Health Economics casts doubt on claims that soda taxes are an effective way to combat obesity.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Washington said they incorporated factors that were overlooked in prior studies to come to the determination that little if any health benefit is achieved buy such taxes.

The team actually conducted two studies: one based on national consumption between 1989 and 2006, and a second examining the impact of taxes in Ohio and Arkansas during the 1990s.

They found that the implementation of taxes did reduce overall soda consumption, but not necessarily calories. In fact, body mass index in Ohio was found to increase among the study group after a tax was imposed.

“Some older studies suggest taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages will reduce obesity by 20 percent rely on household data instead of individual consumption patterns, and they assume that individuals don’t replace the calories in the soda with calories from another source,” said health economist Jason Fletcher from the University of Wisconsin in a press release. “This evidence demonstrates that large increases in soft drink taxes are unlikely to reduce total caloric intake.”

Roughly two-thirds of California voters said they support such taxes, according to polling done in February. Lawmakers have recently proposed sugary drink “sin taxes” in San Francisco and Berkeley. A Richmond tax was soundly defeated on the 2012 November ballot.




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