Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages result in a 15% decrease in the purchase of sugary drinks and an increase in target beverage prices, as evidenced by an 82% tax pass, a meta-analysis and systematic review indicate.
Tatiana Andreeva, PhD, from the University of Connecticut at Hartford, and colleagues report that there is a price elasticity of demand of -1.59.
This data was Posted online June 1 in JAMA network is open.
Andreeva noted that the analysis takes into account sugar-sweetened beverage policies that have been implemented over the past four or five years around the world, not just the United States.
“There is some difference in the structure, even with the difference in the amount of tax and the products that are included, we still see a very consistent result of higher prices and lower sales,” Andreeva said. Medscape Medical News In a phone interview.
Andreeva pointed out that it is difficult to measure consumption because studies are expensive and take a long time.
Lower consumption may lead to a better diet
Sugary drinks require policy action because they play a major role in the increase in diet-related chronic diseases, noted Joshua Pettimar, MD, of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues at accompanying editorial. The results highlight increased cost and decreased sales, which could lead to better health and diet outcomes, they say.
“It is difficult, though not impossible, for any policy to significantly move the needle in population-wide health outcomes, but improving dietary choices is a worthy goal in itself,” the editors wrote.
“We know that people are buying this less, and it will likely lead to some improved health outcomes, but the evidence is too new to be definitive,” Pascual E. Romo, M.P.H., Ph.D., assistant professor at NYU Grossman said. Faculty of medicine Medscape Medical News In a phone interview.
Change in consumption and change in health outcomes are difficult to measure, and take longer to detect, said celebrity editor Laura A.
tooth decay, Type 2 diabetesGibson noted that BMI and body mass index may be areas of interest for future studies.
“There’s a lot of previous evidence that consuming less sugar will have an effect on those health outcomes, so it doesn’t seem inconceivable to see changes, but there are a lot of other effects on people’s weight, diabetes and dental health,” Gibson said. ” Medscape Medical News In a phone interview.
Don’t switch to non-taxable drinks
The meta-analysis included 62 studies, and the systematic review included 86 studies.
The researchers collected data from Scopus, PubMed, CINAHL, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EconLit, Business Source Complete, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Database for systematic reviews. They also used 14 websites and government sources to assess gray literature.
They relied on the preferred reporting elements for systematic reviews and the meta-analysis criteria for systematic reviews. Using a three-level random effects model, researchers analyzed sales, prices, and consumption outcomes. They used the outcome level to assess study quality.
The results also showed that the variance in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was not significant, and there were no indications of consumers switching to non-taxable beverages.
Decreased sugar content, reformulation of taxed beverages for graded taxation, and cross-border purchase were reported in most investigations of local taxation in the narrative synthesis.
Notably, when looking across subpopulations, there was limited information on the heterogeneity of these tax outcomes.
Study limitations included that researchers could not stratify either study design or store type, considering the small number of investigations in each subcategory. The authors note that the findings were predetermined by the WHO Nutrition Guidelines Expert Group Advisory Committee, and therefore the systematic review did not include findings such as tax revenue, and given the paucity of available research studies, only a limited number of results were analyzed.
The study authors concluded, “Further research on sugar-sweetened beverage taxes is needed to understand the associations with diet and health outcomes and to assess the heterogeneity of consumer responses to improve policy access and effectiveness.”
Andreeva and Romo have not reported any relevant financial relationships. Roberto and Gibson revealed their relationships with Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Ashley Lyles is an award-winning medical journalist. Graduated from New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. Previously, she taught professional writing at Michigan State University, where she also took pre-medical medicine classes. Her work has taken her to Honduras, Cambodia, France, and Ghana and she has appeared in media outlets such as The New York Times Daily 360, PBS NewsHour, Huffington Post, Undark, The Root, Psychology Today, TCTMD, Insider, and Tonic (Health by Vice), among other publications.