TAXES ON SUGARSWEETENED
This evidence review is designed to support policy makers seeking to implement a tax on
sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). It synthesizes the latest global evidence of effectiveness
of SSB taxes and summarizes international experiences with SSB taxation to-date.
SSBs are non alcoholic beverages that contain added caloric sweeteners, such as sucrose (sugar)
or high-fructose corn syrup. The main categories of SSBs are carbonated soft drinks, energy
drinks, sports drinks, less than 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices, ready-to-drink teas and
coffees, sweetened waters, and milk-based drinks.
…. SSBs contribute significantly to sugar and energy intakes around the world without adding any
nutritional value to diets. There is strong evidence linking excess sugar and SSB consumption to
a range of adverse health effects including tooth decay, excess weight gain, and increased risk of
developing obesity and type 2 diabetes. The burden of disease attributable to SSBs is considerable
given that they are a singular and entirely discretionary (nonessential) component of the diet.
From a public health perspective, taxation of SSBs is internationally recommended as a priority
component of a comprehensive approach to preventing and controlling obesity and diet-related
non-communicable diseases (NCD). Indeed, the World Health Organization recommends that
governments impose taxes on SSBs that raise retail prices by at least 20% to reduce consumption
and improve population health.
Excess SSB consumption generates both internalities (costs that individual consumers impose
on themselves, mainly in the future) and externalities (costs that consumers impose on others,
primarily in the form of public health care costs and lost productivity). These real costs are
not reflected in the prices charged for SSBs. Taxation is an effective policy lever available to
governments to discourage sub-optimally high consumption of SSBs and improve societal welfare.
There is global momentum behind SSB taxes, with more than 30 countries implementing new SSB
taxes over the last five years. SSB taxes are now in place in more than 40 countries around the world,
covering over 2 billion people, including countries with some of the highest SSB consumption and
obesity rates in the world. Yet, while the number continues to grow steadily, many countries with
high or rapidly rising SSB consumption rates are yet to introduce SSB taxes.