Taxing Soft Drinks and Restricting Access to Vending Machines to Curb Child Obesity

One of the largest drivers of the current obesity epidemic is thought to be excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Some have proposed vending machine restrictions and taxing soft drinks to curb children’s consumption of soft drinks; to a large extent, these policies have not been evaluated empirically. The authors examine these policies using two nationally representative data sets and find no evidence that, as currently practiced, either is effective at reducing children’s weight. They conclude by outlining changes that may increase their effectiveness, such as implementing comprehensive restrictions on access to soft drinks in schools and imposing higher tax rates than are currently in place in many jurisdictions.