Framing messages for taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages

The Foundation's program, Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity, was designed to support investigator-initiated research to identify and assess environmental and policy influences with the greatest potential to improve healthy eating and weight patterns among the nation's children.Evidence indicates that sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes may reduce rates of childhood obesity, particularly among high-risk populations. However, state and local efforts to enact SSB taxes have been unsuccessful, and public opinion research indicates limited support for these policies. Enactment of SSB taxes will be unlikely without public support, yet little research is available to assess how to effectively frame these policies. To address these issues, this study will: (1) identify appropriate message frames, by conducting interviews with SSB tax advocates in two settings where legislation was recently defeated (Philadelphia and New York state) to identify emerging pro- and anti-tax arguments used in recent debates and identify subjective assessments of how message framing shaped prior policy debates; and (2) test message frames, by conducting a randomized longitudinal message framing experiment to test empirically how arguments for and against SSB taxes affect policy attitudes overall and within key subgroups, with the goal of identifying the most resilient messages to be deployed in future SSB tax policy debates.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $147,070.00

Awarded on: 7/7/2011

Time frame: 8/1/2011 - 7/31/2013

Grant Number: 69173


Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

615 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, 21205-2103


Colleen L. Barry
Project Director