SEATTLE – As the Washington state Legislature mulls over whether to raise taxes on cigarettes, candy and bottled water, a new study suggests that people would lose five pounds a year if soda prices were hiked up 18 percent.
Nutrition researchers at the University of North Carolina, studied the eating habits of 5,115 adults between the ages of 18 and 30 over a 20 year period. The study looked at consumption of soda, pizza, hamburgers and whole milk.
Researchers found that a 10 percent price hike led to a 7 percent decrease in soda consumption and an 11.5 percent decrease in pizza consumption. More specifically when it came to soda, researchers reportedly found that a $1 increase in the price of soda resulted in an intake of 124 fewer calories per day. As a result, there was weight loss.
From that, the researchers suggest that an 18 percent tax on the price of soda would cause a person to consume about 56 fewer calories per day and lose about five pounds in a year. They say that could lead to fewer cases of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The study reportedly found that, on average, participants started the project consuming 2,972 calories per day and lowered that to 2,403 calories per day. While that sounds impressive, it also contradicts a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in 2004 that showed American women increased their daily calorie intake by 22 percent between 1971 and 2000, and men increased their daily calorie consumption by 7 percent over that same period.
The beverage industry disagrees with the North Carolina study's findings. A spokesperson for the American Beverage Association tells USA Today that the study "is not representative of real world eating habits, It picks and chooses what foods to look at with narrow presumptions about how foods might be substituted for one another."
The study was published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.