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Bull World Health Organ. 2018 Mar 1;96(3):201-210. doi: 10.2471/BLT.17.195982. Epub 2018 Feb 5.

Fiscal policy to improve diets and prevent noncommunicable diseases: from recommendations to action.

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Menzies Centre for Health Policy, School of Public Health, Charles Perkins Centre (D17), University of Sydney, New South Wales, 2006, Australia.
Department of Health Systems and Policy, Rutgers School of Public Health, New Brunswick, United States of America (USA).
Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.
Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Department, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University, New York, USA.


in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish

The World Health Organization has recommended that Member States consider taxing energy-dense beverages and foods and/or subsidizing nutrient-rich foods to improve diets and prevent noncommunicable diseases. Numerous countries have either implemented taxes on energy-dense beverages and foods or are considering the implementation of such taxes. However, several major challenges to the implementation of fiscal policies to improve diets and prevent noncommunicable diseases remain. Some of these challenges relate to the cross-sectoral nature of the relevant interventions. For example, as health and economic policy-makers have different administrative concerns, performance indicators and priorities, they often consider different forms of evidence in their decision-making. In this paper, we describe the evidence base for diet-related interventions based on fiscal policies and consider the key questions that need to be asked by both health and economic policy-makers. From the health sector's perspective, there is most evidence for the impact of taxes and subsidies on diets, with less evidence on their impacts on body weight or health. We highlight the importance of scope, the role of industry, the use of revenue and regressive taxes in informing policy decisions.

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