Researchers awarded RWJF grant to study the impact of soda taxes on low-income communities

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Jessica Jones-Smith and James Krieger from the University of Washington School of Public Health were recently awarded a $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to assess the impact of sugary drink taxes and tax revenues on low-income families and their communities.

Jones-Smith is an associate professor of health services and epidemiology, and Krieger is a clinical professor of health services.

Sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly soda, are a major contributor to poor diet quality and obesity among children, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. Over the past five years, taxes on these drinks have emerged as an effective strategy to decrease their consumption.

However, many people have raised equity concerns given the regressive nature of these taxes.

In the RWJF-funded study, Jones-Smith and Krieger will examine the extent to which taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages are regressive – that is, they place a greater tax burden on low-income households – and whether progressive investments of those tax revenues in low-income communities affect the net economic impact on those households.

Researchers also plan to quantify the magnitude of this tax burden on low-income families in Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco, three American cities that have implemented soda taxes.