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Am J Public Health. 2019 Apr;109(4):637-639. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.304971. Epub 2019 Feb 21.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption 3 Years After the Berkeley, California, Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax.

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Matthew M. Lee and Kristine A. Madsen are with Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. Jennifer Falbe is with the Human Development and Family Studies Unit, Department of Human Ecology, University of California, Davis. Dean Schillinger is with Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Center for Vulnerable Populations and UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine. Sanjay Basu is with the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. Charles E. McCulloch is with the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco.



To estimate changes in sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) and water consumption 3 years after an SSB tax in Berkeley, California, relative to unexposed comparison neighborhoods.


Data came from repeated annual cross-sectional beverage frequency questionnaires from 2014 to 2017 in demographically diverse Berkeley (n = 1513) and comparison (San Francisco and Oakland; n = 3712) neighborhoods. Pretax consumption (2014) was compared with a weighted average of 3 years of posttax consumption.


At baseline, SSBs were consumed 1.25 times per day (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.00, 1.50) in Berkeley and 1.27 times per day (95% CI = 1.13, 1.42) in comparison city neighborhoods. When we adjusted for covariates, consumption in Berkeley declined by 0.55 times per day (95% CI = -0.75, -0.35) for SSBs and increased by 1.02 times per day (95% CI = 0.54, 1.50) for water. Changes in consumption in Berkeley were significantly different from those in the comparison group, which saw no significant changes.


Reductions in SSB consumption were sustained in demographically diverse Berkeley neighborhoods over the first 3 years of an SSB tax, relative to comparison cities. These persistent, longer-term reductions in SSB consumption suggest that SSB taxes are an effective policy option for jurisdictions focused on improving public health.

[Available on 2020-04-01]

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