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Health Policy. 2017 Aug;121(8):887-894. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2017.06.011. Epub 2017 Jul 8.

The taxation of unhealthy energy-dense foods (EDFs) and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs): An overview of patterns observed in the policy content and policy context of 13 case studies.

Author information

1
Celsus Academy for Sustainable Healthcare, Radboud University Medical Centre', Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Electronic address: luchagenaars@gmail.com.
2
Celsus Academy for Sustainable Healthcare, Radboud University Medical Centre', Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Electronic address: patrick.jeurissen@radboudumc.nl.
3
Department of Social Medicine, Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address: n.s.klazinga@amc.uva.nl.

Abstract

Taxation of energy-dense foods (EDFs) and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is increasingly of interest as a novel public health and fiscal policy instrument. However academic interest in policy determinants has remained limited. We address this paucity by comparing the policy content and policy context of EDF/SSB taxes witnessed in 13 case studies, of which we assume the tax is sufficiently high to induce behavioural change. The observational and non-randomized studies published on our case studies seem to indicate that the EDF/SSB taxes under investigation generally had the desired effects on prices and consumption of targeted products. The revenue collection of EDF/SSB taxes is minimal yet significant. Administrative practicalities in tax levying are important, possibly explaining why a drift towards solely taxing SSBs can be noted, as these can be demarcated more easily, with levies seemingly increasing in more recent case studies. Despite the growing body of evidence suggesting that EDF/SSB taxes have the potential to improve health, fiscal needs more often seem to lay their policy foundation rather than public health advocacy. A remarkable amount of conservative/liberal governments have adopted these taxes, although in many cases revenues are earmarked for benefits compensating regressive income effects. Governments voice diverse policy rationales, ranging from explicitly describing the tax as a public health instrument, to solely explicating revenue raising.

KEYWORDS:

Cross-country comparison; Food and nutrition policy; Obesity; Public policy; Sugar-sweetened beverages; Taxes

PMID:
28711301
DOI:
10.1016/j.healthpol.2017.06.011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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