Sugary Beverage Data – Encouraging Headlines

Nov 6, 2017 by

Sugary Beverage Data – Encouraging Headlines

COPC is heartened by several headlines this week regarding sugary drink consumption trends in Washington State as well as initial data coming from Philadelphia’s sugary beverage tax effort.

Washington State reported out that data from the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey shows the percentage of school-age kids who drank sugar-sweetened beverages one or more times at school in the last week continued a strong downward trend that started sometime after the 2012 survey. COPC has made healthy beverage work a real priority since 2011 and we know that the goal of creating a healthier next generation will be strongly enhanced by kids drinking less sugary drinks.

Working to create healthier beverage choices necessarily includes a focus on reducing the supply and demand for sugary drinks, and perhaps the strongest policy lever to directly impact consumption is to deploy sugary drink taxes. We have seen significant reductions in consumption from both Berkeley, CA as well as Mexico after they passed sugary drink taxes. That simply equates to better health outcomes for those citizens making the healthier choice.

Now we have new data from Philadelphia (who passed their sugary beverage tax in 2016) and not only are sugary drink purchases declining, there is also data noting steady grocery store sales. So alleged negative impacts to grocery businesses that were claimed during the tax policy debate period has simply not been borne out.

While we should celebrate these positive data stories, the healthier beverage work needs to remain a high priority for public health advocates and allies so we can maintain and deepen these important gains. The Washington data notes that children who receive free and reduced price lunch still have higher rates of sugary drink consumption, as do many minority groups. So health disparities still persist and need specific attention and effort. With sugary drinks as the number one source of added sugars in our diets, we will maintain the work of healthier beverage consumption as a flagship priority in our ongoing policy advocacy efforts.