Obesity Research and Education Initiative

David Frisvold study: Soda tax does little to curb obesity

FrisvoldDr. David Frisvold, Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the Tippie College of Business and a member of the Obesity Research and Educational Initiative (OREI), was recently noted in an IowaNow article, “Research finds soda tax does little to curb obesity,” for his work co-authoring the study, “Non-Linear Effects of Soda Taxes on Consumption and Weight Outcomes,” recently published in Health Economics (PDF). Dr. Frisvold and his colleagues, Jason Fletcher of the University of Wisconsin’s LaFollette School of Public Affairs and Nathan Tefft of the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, looked at the potential non-linear effects of making large increases in soda taxes even though previous studies have shown that small soda taxes do not effect significant change in overall population weight. The study took a two-pronged approach, looking at evidence for effects of current soda tax rates on weight and tax usage, and conducting a comparative case study that looked at dramatic soda tax rate increases in Arkansas and Ohio in the 1990s. Data from both approaches show there is little evidence to support the idea that increases in soda taxes will lead to significant changes in population weight, largely due to individuals substituting other beverages in response to increases in soda taxes.