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Am J Public Health. 2018 Feb;108(2):203-209. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.304159.

Legal and Administrative Feasibility of a Federal Junk Food and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax to Improve Diet.

Author information

1
Jennifer L. Pomeranz is with the College of Global Public Health, New York University, New York, NY. Parke Wilde, Yue Huang, Renata Micha, and Dariush Mozaffarian are with the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate legal and administrative feasibility of a federal "junk" food (including sugar-sweetened beverages [SSBs]) tax to improve diet.

METHODS:

To assess food definitions and administration models, we systematically searched (1) PubMed (through May 15, 2017) for articles defining foods subject to taxes, and legal and legislative databases as well as online for (2) US federal, state, and tribal junk food tax bills and laws (January 1, 2012-February 28, 2017); SSB taxes (January 1, 2014-February 28, 2017); and international junk food tax laws (as of February 28, 2017); and (3) federal taxing mechanisms and administrative methods (as of February 28, 2017).

RESULTS:

Articles recommend taxing foods by product category, broad nutrient criteria, specific nutrients or calories, or a combination. US junk food tax bills (n = 6) and laws (n = 3), international junk food laws (n = 2), and US SSB taxes (n = 10) support taxing foods using category-based (n = 8), nutrient-based (n = 1), or combination (n = 12) approaches. Federal taxing mechanisms (particularly manufacturer excise taxes on alcohol) and administrative methods provide informative models.

CONCLUSIONS:

From legal and administrative perspectives, a federal junk food tax appears feasible based on product categories or combination category-plus-nutrient approaches, using a manufacturer excise tax, with additional support for sugar and graduated tax strategies.

PMID:
29320289
PMCID:
PMC5846580
[Available on 2019-02-01]
DOI:
10.2105/AJPH.2017.304159

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