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News Article

Sugar sweetened drinks becoming more affordable worldwide

Taxation may be needed to prevent the obesity crisis worsening suggest authors.

A study by Evan Blecher of the University of Illinois and colleagues finds that the affordability of sugar sweetened soft drinks is increasing by an average of over 8% a year in lower income countries and by nearly 2% a year in high income countries. As there is a link between affordability and consumption, and between consumption and obesity these figures suggest more countries may need to consider taxation of these drinks to prevent obesity. The study is published in ‘Preventing Chronic Diseases’.

Blecher and colleagues say that from 2000 to 2013 global prevalence of obesity increased by one quarter in adults and one half in children.

High consumption of sugar sweetened beverages may contribute to obesity and increasing consumption of these beverages worldwide in the last few years is causing concern in public health circles according to the study authors. A few countries have attempted to control intake of these beverages by applying taxes to increase their price relative to healthier alternatives. However, they have done so only in the last 5 years or so. Data about the effectiveness of the policy in the real world is still coming in.

This study examined data from 1990 to 2016 in 82 countries (40 high income and 42 lower income). The researchers calculated the annual rate of change in the proportion of per capita GDP needed to buy 100L of a well known sugar sweetened beverage over that time. In 79 out of the 82 countries, the proportion of income needed to buy the beverage decreased in the timeframe studied. The drivers of this change were increased incomes rather than increased prices.

In many of the countries studied, the researchers discovered that bottled water was more expensive than sugar sweetened beverages and in 13 countries, bottled water became less affordable at the same time as sugar sweetened beverages became more affordable.

The authors argue that taxation of these beverages is needed to prevent the global obesity epidemic from worsening.

Blecher E, Liber AC, Drope JM, Nguyen B, Stoklosa M. Global Trends in the Affordability of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, 1990–2016. Prev Chronic Dis 2017;14:160406. DOI:

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • I.Hoskins
  • Date
  • 09 May 2017
  • Source
  • Preventing Chronic Disease
  • Subject(s)
  • Food science