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


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


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.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

Online ahead of print

Journal Title

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


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


PMC Journal - In Process

Data Set/Study

Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panels


United States of America




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