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Americans consume 300 calories more each day than they did a generation ago. Research shows that almost half of these calories come from sugar sweetened beverages. As a result, these drinks, alone, may be responsible for at least one-fifth of the weight gained in the past three decades. Consuming sugar sweetened beverages is strongly associated with weight gain in all age groups. Drinking one additional serving of a sugar sweetened beverage per day significantly increases the chance a child will be obese. At the same time, reducing consumption of these drinks is linked to a reduction in body weight, with heavier individuals experiencing a greater weight loss than those who weigh less.
“Sugar drinks” includes all beverages that are sweetened with various forms of sugars that add calories. Sugar drinks include, but are not limited to, carbonated sodas, sports and energy drinks, sweetened rice and dairy beverages, lemonade and other fruit-ades, sweetened teas and coffees and other sweetened fruit drinks. They do not include liquids containing only naturally-occurring sugars, such as natural fruit juices.
Several policy and legal strategies are available to reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, including healthy food purchasing and vending policies in schools and workplaces, government ordinances restricting the sale of unhealthy beverages on public property, restrictions on the sale of these beverages in schools, and increasing the price of these beverages through taxes or other pricing policies.
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This guide explains the doctrine of tax uniformity within the context of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, and provides general, high level recommendations for assessing and navigating potential uniformity-related concerns as part of designing these taxes.
The Public Health Law Center and the American Cancer Society have partnered to update the Center’s Healthy Healthcare Toolkit, which is designed to help organizations create healthier food environments with a special focus on hospital and healthcare settings. Although the series focuses on beverages and healthcare settings, many of the principles and approaches outline in this toolkit can also be applied to food environments, and also to other types of organizational settings.