Public Health Nutrition

Hot Topic – Soft drinks

Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages: a survey of knowledge, attitudes and behaviours

Cheryl Rivarda1 c1, Danielle Smitha1, Susan E McCanna1 and Andrew Hylanda1

a1 Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm & Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA


Objective To assess current beverage consumption patterns and anticipated reaction to an added 20 % tax on these products.

Design A random-digit dialled telephone interview lasting 20 min was administered to assess demographics, beverage consumption behaviours and intentions regarding consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in the event of an additional tax on these beverages.

Setting Respondents were recruited throughout the USA.

Subjects The study included 592 adults.

Results Sixty-nine per cent of respondents reported consuming at least one pre-packaged sugar-sweetened beverage in the past week; those who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages averaged seven pre-packaged beverages per week. Ninety-one per cent knew that frequent consumption of soft drinks increases risk of obesity. Thirty-six per cent supported a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages with greatest support among those aged 18–24 years, those with BMI < 30 kg/m2 and those with higher levels of education (P < 0·05). Over one-third of respondents said that they would cut back on their sweetened beverage consumption in the event of an added 20 % tax on these beverages.

Conclusions Our findings suggest that an added tax on these beverages could influence some to cut down on their consumption, reducing their risk of obesity and related illnesses.

(Received May 10 2011)

(Accepted September 29 2011)

(Online publication January 24 2012)


c1 Corresponding author: Email