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Harvard: Sugary drink tax would cut disease rates, health care costs in Boulder


Quelques extraits de l'article « Harvard: Sugary drink tax would cut disease rates, health care costs in Boulder » de Alex Burness paru le 27 octobre 2016.


The tax on sugary drinks on Boulder's ballot would prevent about 1,000 obesity cases and cut an estimated $6.4 million in health care spending over 10 years, Harvard University researchers say.

Using census data for Boulder County, Harvard's CHOICES ( Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study) project localized a model first used in Philadelphia and also used to examine projected impacts of sugary drink taxes in other areas, including the three California cities that will join Boulder in voting on such taxes this November.

The city of Boulder does not track health data of residents, city spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said Thursday, noting that she is not aware of any agency that does.

 [One researcher says that] « sugar-sweetened beverage excise taxes are pretty much real winners in terms of what you can do in health policy »

The American Beverage Association, which is financing fights against the tax locally and in California, said the study is flawed and a « political maneuver financed by out-of-town special interest groups to push their pro-tax agenda 12 days before an election.» The “special interests” they referenced include Healthy Food America and the JPB Foundation.

Harvard's study suggests promising results for proponents of the tax, who've billed it as an effective counter to diabetes, obesity and soaring health care costs. According the study, the tax would save more than $40 in costs for every dollar invested to administer the tax.

Additionally, the research says, Boulder would see a 10 % drop in diabetes incidence over the 1 year period immediately following the tax's implementation.

The measure, if passed by Boulder voters, would raise a projected $3.8 million in that first year, and the money would be earmarked for public health programming, and particularly programming that targets kids and minorities, who are disproportionately burdened by diabetes and obesity.

According to the city charter, Healthy Boulder Kids cannot tell the Boulder City Council how to spend the money. Instead, if the ballot measure is approved, a task force will make recommendations to the council, which will then put the money toward whatever public health programs ultimately are deemed most appropriate.


It's difficult to estimate the degree to which the Harvard study may or may not be skewed, as it considers county, not city, data, for a study that concerns the city, not the county. The campaign in favor of the tax has also focused at times on county data.

It is true that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has reported the county's obesity prevalence went from 6.8 percent in 1995 to 14.8 percent in 2012, but Healthy Boulder Kids has not been able to provide Boulder-specific obesity figures when pressed for them.

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