What US city consumes the fewest sugary beverages?
If you’ve been hanging out with us for any length of time, you’ve probably heard us say your zip code is more important than your genetic code in determining your health. You know that means that your neighborhood characteristics—income, education level, and even how far away the nearest grocery store is—play a larger role in determining your health than heredity and health care do.
You also likely know 5-2-1-0, and try to meet the daily goal of 0 sugary beverages, drinking more water instead.
But all these facts got us wondering how our zip codes might affect what we drink. Or more precisely, we asked, “What US city consumes the fewest sugary beverages?” Here’s what we discovered.
Maybe it’s the soda tax
We know several cities collect taxes on sales of sugary beverages, including Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, Oakland, Albany, and Berkley in California; Boulder, Colorado; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the Navajo Nation.
Berkley, California, was the first city to pass a tax on sugary drinks (1% per ounce). Did it help residents choose healthier beverages? Research suggests it did.
In 2015, just months after the city levied the nation’s first soda tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, the consumption of sugary drinks in diverse and low-income neighborhoods dropped significantly. When researchers surveyed residents three years later, the residents reported drinking 52% fewer servings of sugary drinks than they did before the tax was passed. They reported drinking 29% more water instead.
Just a short time behind Berkley, San Francisco passed a similar tax, even though it already boasted one of the lowest rates of soda consumption per person than other major cities in the U.S.
But there’s a downside
Philadelphia’s soda tax is bigger and covers beverages sweetened with sugar as well as beverages containing low-calorie sweeteners. Sales of these drinks have dropped by 46%, but it appears residents are driving to stores right outside of the city to make their purchases instead.
So who consumes the least—and the most?
Research suggests that San Francisco residents may still consume the least amount of sugary beverages. Who consumes the most soda? A report from May 2016 ranked Miami at the top, followed by Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston.
Researchers caution, however, that surveys relying on self-reported consumption may not yield accurate data, especially in cities where residents are hearing negative messages about sugary beverages.
Learn more about sugary beverage taxes
Mini workout of the week:
Here’s a fun video being shared on social media about how silly with joy we will be when our quarantine is over and we can be with our besties again. Hop up and get this fun and funny dance going. Learn all three parts! Maybe you can even social distance dance it with your friends today.
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