Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Obesity

Obesity rates have risen over the last several decades with increased sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption, especially by youth, partially to blame. The increased caloric intake from SSBs is not countered by a reduced intake of calories from food, providing additional evidence of the link to obesity, as well as type 2 diabetes and other health problems.

Some policy interventions seek to reduce SSB consumption by advocating better access to drinking water in public settings including schools, and adopting taxes on SSBs.

The authors describe six intervention strategies to reduce SSB consumption, borrowed from the World Health Organization’s MPOWER technical assistance package for tobacco control:

  1. Monitor use and prevention policies.
  2. Encourage environments that promote healthier eating and increased activity, particularly in schools.
  3. Offer help for people to improve their diets.
  4. Warn about the dangers of use.
  5. Enforce bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  6. Raise taxes.

The evidence clearly shows that higher SSB prices reduce SSB consumption. Food-related price responsiveness is greater among young people who also are the highest consumers of SSBs. Monies raised by taxes could further promote obesity prevention.

“The bottom line is that sizable new SSB taxes are a win-win-win for policy-makers,” the authors conclude.