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The Association of Soda Sales Tax and School Nutrition Laws: A Concordance of Policies

Greathouse KL, Chriqui JF, Moser RP, Collins TA and Perna FM. Public Health Nutrition, 14:1-6, 2013.

Objective: The current research examined the association between state disfavored tax on soda (i.e. the difference between soda sales tax and the tax on food products generally) and a summary score representing the strength of state laws governing competitive beverages (beverages that compete with the beverages in the federally funded school lunch program) in US schools.

Design: The Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (CLASS) summary score reflected the strength of a state's laws restricting competitive beverages sold in school stores, vending machines, school fundraisers and à la carte cafeteria items. Bridging the Gap (BTG) is a nationally recognized research initiative that provided state-level soda tax data. The main study outcome was the states' competitive beverage summary scores for elementary, middle and high school grade levels, as predicted by the states' disfavoured soda tax. Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted, adjusting for year and state.

Setting: Data from BTG and CLASS were used.

Subjects: BTG and CLASS data from all fifty states and the District of Columbia from 2003 to 2010 were used.

Results: A higher disfavoured soda sales tax was generally associated with an increased likelihood of having strong school beverage laws across grade levels, and especially when disfavoured soda sales tax was >5 %.

Conclusions: These data suggest a concordance between states' soda taxes and laws governing beverages sold in schools. States with high disfavoured sales tax on soda had stronger competitive beverage laws, indicating that the state sales tax environment may be associated with laws governing beverage policy in schools.

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