Menu Close

Linking a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax with Fruit and Vegetable Subsidies: A Simulation Analysis of the Impact on the Poor

Citation

Valizadeh, Pourya; Popkin, Barry M.; & Ng, Shu Wen (Online ahead of print). Linking a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax with Fruit and Vegetable Subsidies: A Simulation Analysis of the Impact on the Poor. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. PMCID: PMC Journal - In Process

Abstract

BACKGROUND: US individuals, particularly from low-income subpopulations, have very poor diet quality. Policies encouraging shifts from consuming unhealthy food towards healthy food consumption are needed.
OBJECTIVES: We simulate the differential impacts of a national sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax and its combination with fruit and vegetable (FV) subsidies targeted to low-income households, on SSB and FV purchases of lower and higher SSB purchasers.
DESIGN: We considered a one-cent-per-ounce SSB tax and two FV subsidy rates of 30% and 50% and used longitudinal grocery purchase data for 79,044 urban/semiurban US households from 2010-2014 Nielsen Homescan. We used demand elasticities for lower and higher SSB purchasers, estimated via longitudinal quantile regression, to simulate policies' differential effects.
RESULTS: Higher-SSB purchasing households made larger reductions (per adult equivalent) in SSB purchases than lower SSB purchasers due to the tax (e.g., 4.4 oz/day at SSB purchase percentile 90 vs. 0.5 oz/day at percentile 25; p < 0.05). Our analyses by household income indicated low-income households would make larger reductions than higher-income households at all SSB purchase levels. Targeted FV subsidies induced similar, but nutritionally insignificant, increases in FV purchases of low-income households regardless of their SSB purchase levels. Subsidies, however, were effective in mitigating the tax burdens. All low-income households experienced a net financial gain when the tax was combined with a 50% FV subsidy, but net gains were smaller among higher SSB purchasers. Further, low-income households with children gained smaller net financial benefits than households without children and incurred net financial losses under a 30% subsidy rate.
CONCLUSIONS: SSB taxes can effectively reduce SSB consumption. FV subsidies would increase FV purchases, but nutritionally meaningful increases are limited due to low purchase levels pre-policy. Expanding taxes beyond SSBs, larger FV subsidies, or subsidies beyond FVs, particularly for low-income households with children, may be more effective.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqab330

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

Online ahead of print

Journal Title

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Author(s)

Valizadeh, Pourya
Popkin, Barry M.
Ng, Shu Wen

PMCID

PMC Journal - In Process

Data Set/Study

Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panels

Continent/Country

United States of America

State

Nonspecific

ORCiD

Popkin - 0000-0001-9495-9324
Ng - 0000-0003-0582-110X
Valizadeh - 0000-0001-9564-4754