Key medical groups push for tax on soda, sugary drinks for first time

Two major health organizations issued a statement on Monday, advocating for the implementation of a tax on sugary drinks as a means to curb consumption among children and young adults.

“On average, children are consuming over 30 gallons of sugary drinks every year,” pediatrician Natalie D. Muth, lead author of the policy statement, said. “This is enough to fill a bathtub, and it doesn’t even include added sugars from food.”

In a paper, the groups put forth a number of recommendations aimed at curbing the intake of sugar among children – including an excise tax, which would be imposed on manufacturers or distributors of a product and would likely increase the price of the product for consumers.

This marks the first time the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended taxes on sugary drinks.

A recent study found that soda taxes might be an effective way to curb intake. Berkeley, California passed a tax in 2014 – and three years afterward, people reported drinking half as many servings of sugary drinks, as reported by Reuters. During the same timeframe, water consumption jumped nearly 30 percent. Residents in nearby cities, on the other hand, maintained steady levels of sugary drink consumption.

Other cities that have implemented an excise tax on sugary drinks include San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle.

The governor of Connecticut has proposed a statewide tax on sugary beverages.

Meanwhile, last year, California and Washington passed laws prohibiting municipalities from implementing any new taxes on sugary drinks.

Other recommendations in the report include asking federal and state governments to support efforts to decrease marketing of sugary drinks to young Americans – on television and the internet, as well as at places like movie theaters, concerts and sporting events. Researchers also say federal nutrition assistance programs should ensure access to healthier options. Further, milk and water should be made the default options on kids’ menus and sugar contents should be included on nutrition fact panels and menus.