A tax on sugary drinks in the United Kingdom has helped prevent childhood obesity, according to a study by researchers at the University of Cambridge. The study estimates that the soda tax, introduced in 2018, prevented around 5,000 cases of childhood obesity each year, primarily in 10 and 11-year-old girls. The reductions were most pronounced among girls from lower-income households.
The authors of the study said the results were “promising” and suggested that reducing the sugar content of beverages consumed by children could have a significant impact. However, the authors also noted that the findings were limited to girls and did not extend to boys or younger children. The reasons for these differences are not yet clear.
Dr. Tamara Hannon, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, called the study “very strong” and recommended further study. She noted that childhood obesity often carries over into adulthood and can increase the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, and joint problems.
Hannon also stated that a soda tax should be considered in the United States, where around 15 million children are considered obese. Several U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco, already have soda taxes. Hannon recommends that children should drink mostly water and milk, with limited amounts of fruit juice, and avoid sugary drinks.
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