Seattle’s sweetened beverage tax linked to lower BMIs in children

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Last week, JAMA Open Network published Sweetened Beverage Tax Implementation and Change in Body Mass Index Among Children in Seattle. The research paper discusses the tax which was implemented in 2018 and designed to reduce the sale of sugary drinks. Since then, researchers evaluated 6,313 children from Seattle living under the tax, as well as children in nontaxed King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.

The researchers found that compared to those living in neighboring nontaxed areas, Seattle children experienced a greater decrease in body mass index. They concluded that the sweetened beverage tax may be associated with a small but reasonable reduction in BMI among children.

Jessica Jones-Smith

Jessica (Jesse) Jones-Smith told U.S. News & World Report, “When taken together with the previous repeated cross-sectional study of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Oakland and with studies showing a substantial and sustained decline in purchasing of sugary beverages after the tax, we think ours provide(s) evidence to support the idea that sugary drink taxes may be an effective policy for improving children’s BMI and potentially preventing high BMI.” Dr. Jones-Smith also discussed this research with HSPop last year.

Co-authors include:

HSPop Affiliated:

  • Jessica Jones-Smith (PhD) – Professor, Health Systems and Population Health
  • Jamie Wallace (MPH) – Health Services PhD student
  • Lina Walkinshaw (MPH) – Clinical instructor, Health Systems and Population Health; COPHP MPH ’14 alum
  • David Arterburn (MD, MPH) – Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Health Services MPH ’03 alum
  • Nadine Chan (PhD, MPH) – Clinical assistant professor, UW Department of Epidemiology; Public Health Seattle & King County; Health Services PhD ’07; Health Services MPH ’01 alum
  • Brian Saelens (PhD) – Seattle Children’s; Professor, UW Department of Pediatrics; Professor, UW Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Adjunct Professor, Health Systems and Population Health

Non-HSpop Affiliated:

  • Melissa Knox (PhD) – Associate professor, UW Department of Economics
  • Suman Chakrabarti (PhD) – International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • Stephen Mooney (PhD) – Assistant professor, UW Department of Epidemiology
  • Jessica Godwin (PhD) – Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology
  • Joana Eavey (MSPH) – Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Read the full paper

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