A recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) argues that adding a tax to caloric sweetened beverages – such as carbonated soft drinks — may help reduce high American obesity rates.
Titled Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages Potential Effects on Beverage Consumption, Calorie Intake, and Obesity, the report, by the agency’s Economic Research Service, argues that a 20 percent increase in the cost of sweetened beverages would reduce an adult’s total beverage intake by approximately 38 calories per day — or about 3.8 lbs. over the course of a year — enough to move some adults from borderline obesity to a healthier weight.
The report, based on the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), defined caloric sweetened beverages as “sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, and powdered mixes with added sugars.” Adding an excise tax to those items, according to the report, would be effective in reducing obesity because it would encourage consumers to look for healthier alternatives, including water, coffee, tea, naturally-sweetened fruit juices and diet beverages. By making it an excise tax rather than an additional sales tax, the report argues, cost changes would be more readily visible to the consumer.
You can read the report here http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR100/ERR100.pdf