Stop Sale of Sugary Sodas? Raise the Price

What's accomplished what a boatload of doctors, thousands of parents and a sometimes reviled mayor of a very big city couldn't do?

We're talking, of course, about stopping kids -- or even adults -- from buying sugary sodas.  And it's the price.

Apparently the increase in prices for these drinks has gotten some people to stop.  According to Nancy Hellmich at USA Today, "Raising the cost of high-calorie beverages by a few cents — and highlighting calorie content in places where they are sold — decreases sales, a new study shows."

Researchers at Harvard chose the cafeteria of a financial services company to do the study. Hellmich reports they increased the price of high-calorie beverages (those that contained 150 calories or more per container), mostly soda, lemonade, whole chocolate milk, and some juices, by one cent per ounce.

She writes that the price of low-calorie beverages (45 to 149 calories) and zero-calorie beverages stayed the same. "So a 20-ounce bottle of a high-calorie drink cost 20 cents more than the same-sized container of low-calorie or zero-calorie beverages."

And that's where the rub came in.

The increased price resulted in a 16% decline in sales of high-calorie beverages, Jason Block, the study's lead researcher and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, told Hellmich. Block reported the findings Thursday at the annual Obesity Society meeting in Atlanta.

In the second part of the study, Hellmich notes, researchers arranged the sodas by calorie counts and high-calorie beverages decreased by 11%.

"Both increasing the price of higher-calorie beverages and changing how we displayed them had a similar effect on decreasing sales of these drinks," Block told Hellmich.


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