Rapid Evidence Review

Given the rise of obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases worldwide, policymakers are exploring the use of taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages as a way to encourage individuals to reduce their sugar intake and improve their health.

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This review, conducted in six weeks by AcademyHealth’s Translation and Dissemination Institute, found that taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) can lead fewer people to buy this type of drink, but the magnitude of such taxes needs to be large to have a meaningful impact on consumption. Among children and adolescents, drinking SSBs is generally associated with negative health outcomes such as weight gain or increased likelihood of obesity; however, some recent studies found no such connection.

This rapid evidence review is part of an AcademyHealth series that seeks to pilot innovative approaches to quickly, but rigorously identify and communicate evidence to inform public and private decision-making. The series examines questions relevant to building a Culture of Health, the current focus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the project’s funder.