ABSTRACT: Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxation is becoming of increasing interest as a policy aimed at addressing the rising prevalence of obesity in many countries. Preliminary evidence indicates its potential to not only reduce obesity prevalence, but also generate public revenue. However, differences in country-specific contexts create uncertainties in its possible outcomes. This paper urges careful consideration of country-specific characteristics by suggesting three points in particular that may influence the effectiveness of a volume-based soft drink excise tax: population obesity prevalence, soft drink consumption levels, and existing baseline tax rates. Data from 19 countries are compared with regard to each point. The authors suggest that SSB or soft drink taxation policy may be more effective in reducing obesity prevalence where existing obesity prevalence and soft drink consumption levels are high. Conversely, in countries where the baseline tax rate is already considered high, SSB taxation may not have a noticeable impact on consumption patterns or obesity prevalence, and may incur negative feedback from the beverage industry or the general public. Thorough evaluation of these points is recommended prior to adopting SSB or soft drink taxation as an obesity reduction measure in any given country.
Health Policy 06/2012; 107(1):83-90. · 1.51 Impact Factor