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Organic Consumers Association

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Poorest Americans Drink a Lot More Sugary Drinks Than the Richest – Which Is Why Soda Taxes Could Help Reduce Gaping Health Inequalities

Many countries such as the U.K. and Mexico and a handful of U.S. cities such as Philadelphia and San Francisco have imposed soda taxes in an effort to fight rising obesity. 

Lots of research shows a link between drinking sugary substances and a whole host of negative health outcomes, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, tooth decay and gout. 

As economists who study economic status and health, we wanted to look at this from another perspective: Does how wealthy you are affect how much soda you consume? And could reducing sugary beverage consumption narrow the double-digit life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest Americans? 

Wealth and soda

We analyzed data for over 24,000 U.S. adults in two nationally representative random samples from the National Longitudinal Surveys, which follow groups of people over a period of time, asking them hundreds of questions each year on a variety of topics like employment, health and attitudes. Some questions are asked every year, while others are included less frequently. 

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