Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Not a “Holy Grail” but a Cup at Least Half; Comment on “Food Taxes: A New Holy Grail?”

Document Type : Commentary


1 Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, MA, USA

2 Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA


In this commentary, we argue for the implementation of a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax as a tool to help address the global obesity and diabetes epidemics. Consumption of SSBs has increased exponentially over the last several decades, a trend that has been an important contributor to the obesity and diabetes epidemics. Prior evidence demonstrates that a SSB tax will likely decrease SSB consumption without significantly increasing consumption of other unhealthy food or beverages. Further, this tax is unlikely to have effects on income inequality and should not contribute to weight-based discrimination. A SSB tax also should raise revenue for government entities that already pay, through health care expenditures and health programs, for the consequences of excess SSB consumption.


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