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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Soda Tax and After-school Exercise Could Reduce Childhood Obesity

A sugar-sweetened beverage tax, afterschool physical activity, and a ban on fast food TV ads to children under 12 could reduce obesity in adolescents, according to new national research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.


[Photo: Dr. Ross Brownson]

Researchers from the Brown School and seven other institutions reviewed literature for each of the three policies from 2000-2012 to find evidence of effectiveness. Investigators then used a microsimulation model to estimate the impact of each. The model predicted that all three policies could reduce childhood obesity, especially among Blacks and Hispanics.

The option with the biggest impact, researchers found, was the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, sweet teas, and sports drinks. The model predicted that by 2032 such a tax could reduce obesity among adolescents by 2.4 percent.

“This study clearly illustrates the power of prevention policy in addressing one of our most pressing public health issues,” said Dr. Ross Brownson, professor at the Brown School who chaired the Partnership for Prevention working group that led the effort. “We anticipate that our findings will inform federal policy as national leaders plan efforts to address childhood obesity.”

The study was published online August 27 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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