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The soda tax debate; health information online

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Without soda, you might eat more cake

Regulation, Spring issue

A sky-high soda tax might convince people to stop drinking soda, but they wouldn’t necessarily lose weight, according to an article by law professor Jonathan Klick and economist Eric A. Helland in the libertarian Cato Institute’s Regulation magazine. “For instance, adults may trade their Pepsi for a Pabst, while some individuals may decide that, because they stopped drinking Coke, they are free to eat more cake” the authors write. They do an admirable job dismantling studies that examine the relationship between soda consumption and weight and conclude that “while politicians at all levels of government in the United States have been drawn to soda taxes as a way to both raise money and fight obesity, the evidence suggests that taxes may in fact do neither.”

Online research

Plus — they’re exercising their thumbs!

The Social Life of Health Information,”
Pew Research Center

People searching the Internet for health information now go far beyond just investigating suspicious symptoms, according to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Based on a national telephone survey of 3,001 adults, Pew found pockets of highly engaged people who actively track and share health information online. (You know the type: They’re the ones who write regular tweets about their great 10-mile runs.) Twenty-seven percent of Internet users, or 20 percent of adults, have tracked their weight, diet, exercise routine or other health indicators or symptoms online. The report also found that social networking sites such as Facebook are not a significant source of health information, but are used to follow friends’ health experiences or to memorialize people who have died.

— Rachel Saslow

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