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Taxes on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to Reduce Overweight and Obesity in Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Sharon S. Nakhimovsky, Andrea B. Feigl, Carlos Avila, Gael O'Sullivan, Elizabeth Macgregor-Skinner, Mark Spranca


September 27, 2016
The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), which can lead to weight gain, is rising in middle-income countries (MICs). Taxing SSBs may help address this challenge. Systematic reviews focused on high-income countries indicate that taxing SSBs may reduce SSB consumption.

Abt staff conducted a systematic review on the effectiveness of SSB taxation in MICs (1990–2016) and identified nine studies from Brazil, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Peru, and South Africa. The review indicates that taxing SSBs will increase the prices of SSBs, especially sugary soda, in markets with few producers. Taxing SSBs will also reduce net energy intake by enough to prevent further growth in obesity prevalence, but not to reduce population weight permanently. Additional research using better survey data and stronger study designs is needed to ascertain the long-term effectiveness of an SSB tax on obesity prevalence in MICs.

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Latin America & the Caribbean