Introduction: Health Policy and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

The public health problems posed by consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages—and the appropriate policy responses—may be similar to those that arise when addressing cigarette and alcohol consumption.

In this introduction to four point/counterpoint pieces by two research teams, one led by Frank J. Chaloupka of the University of Illinois at Chicago and another by Jason M. Fletcher of Yale University, the editor spells out the groundwork provided to them.

The authors were asked to organize their discussion around these questions:

  • How is the consumption of soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages related to obesity and related health concerns in the United States?
  • How do/might these relationships change as people age?
  • What might we learn from policies aimed at reducing the consumption of other unhealthy substances?
  • Are taxes an effective mechanism for reducing the consumption of soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages, or are other health interventions appropriate?