You may remember the City of Berkeley becoming the first U.S. city to enact a one-cent per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages such as regular soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened juices, flavored waters, and Ready To Drink sweetened coffees and teas.
Berkeley voters passed this law in Nov. 2014 and it took effect on March 1, 2015. Two years later, health researchers say the sugar tax is working. In the year following the implementation of the tax, researchers discovered the volume of sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Berkeley declined by 9.6%, while sales of bottled water rose 15.6%.
The tax, which adds 68 cents to the cost of a two-litter bottle of soda, has added $2.5 million to the city’s coffers (as of the beginning of this year). The funds are earmarked for children nutrition and community health programs.
So where does Zsweet stand on government taking a more active role in our daily lives as it pertains to nutrition? The experiment in Northern California seems to be working. Should larger cities with wider reach adopt a similar policy?
It certainly wouldn’t hurt, but Tim Avila, one of the founders of Zsweet, says wholesale changes in behavior are required if we wish to put a meaningful dent in sugar consumption.
“The taxes may help somewhat, but behavior modification resources will go much farther in getting people healthier and stemming the rise in metabolic disease,” said Avila. “The entire category of lifestyle products that you find in a Whole Foods Market is driven by individual lifestyle demand based on changing habits.”