According to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco, having taxes on sugary drinks actually reduces the risk of unhealthy weight gain and gestational diabetes among pregnant women.
The recently published research, which included over 5 million women, is the first study to analyze how sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes impact the health of moms and children both before and after birth.
The researchers ultimately compared mothers who lived in cities that had no SSB taxes to mothers who lived in cities that had active SSB taxes while pregnant. And they not only found that SSB taxes drastically lower the risk of unhealthy weight gain and diabetes but there was also a reduced risk of delivering a small fetus.
“All three of these outcomes are important for health later in life, for both the mother and child,” explained Justin White, the study’s senior author.
“If you can reduce risk at this key developmental stage, it can have long-lasting health benefits.”
Among the general public, sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. And SSBs also represent the largest added sugar source among pregnant women.
According to the researchers, pregnant women eat about 50% more calories from added sugars than is advised.
The team utilized national birth certificate data of over 5.3 million U.S. pregnant women and their children to conduct the study from 2013 to 2019. During this period, there were five cities with SSB taxes– Berkeley, Philadelphia, Oakland, Seattle, and San Fransisco.
These cities were used for comparisons against dozens of other cities that did not have SSB taxes.