Nav: Home

The impact of the sugar tax in Chile: A bittersweet success?

July 03, 2018

A new sugar tax introduced on soft drinks in Chile has been effective in reducing consumption of sugary drinks, new research carried out in the country has revealed.

However, the international research team, led by academics from the University of York, say although consumption may have dropped, it may not be enough to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in diet-related health.

A growing number of cities and countries have adopted taxes on sugary drinks to help combat sugar consumption, which is blamed for rising obesity levels. The tax was introduced in Chile in 2014.

The team analysed household grocery purchasing data from Chile for three years before the tax was introduced and for one year afterwards.

The policy targeted any non-alcoholic beverages to which colourants, flavourings or sweeteners have been added. For beverages with an added sugar concentration of 6.25 grams per 100ml or more, the existing tax was increased from 13% to 18%; while for those below this threshold, the tax was decreased from 13% to 10%, producing an 8% tax difference.

For example, the tax change, if fully transmitted to the consumer, would increase the prices of a 500ml sugary beverage from 500 pesos (£0.60) to 525 pesos (£0.62), and it would drop the price of an equally priced non-sugary beverage to 485 pesos (£0.57).

The authors of the report conclude that despite the tax incentive being comparatively small, there are signs that purchasing of beverages with higher sugar content declined, particularly among high socioeconomic groups.

The study revealed an overall 21.6% decrease in the monthly purchased volume of the higher taxed, sugary soft drinks. Among middle and high socioeconomic groups, the monthly purchased volume fell by 16% and 31%, respectively. There was a 12% reduction in purchase volume for the low socioeconomic group.

However, this was statistically insignificant. By contrast, the volume of non-sugary soft drinks, for which the tax rate had been decreased, showed no increase in purchased volume for any socioeconomic groups.

Marc Suhrcke, Professor of Global Health Economics at the University of York said: "The results suggest that the Chilean tax policy may have been effective in reducing consumption of sugary drinks, though not necessarily to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in diet-related health." "Further evaluations are needed to analyse the policy effect on purchasing of soft drinks in the long run as well as to evaluate the impact on health outcomes."

Professor Cuadrado from the University of Chile said: "Our results suggest an overall reduction of sugar consumption after the implementation of the tax in Chile. From a public health perspective, even a small reduction in sugar intake at the population level could lead to significant health gains."

He added: "Other countries may take heart from our findings, in that it indicates that the tax incentive may not need to be huge to have impact. It also shows that there may be more than one way in which an SSB tax can be implemented with some success."

The authors of the report say the latest findings from Chile could have implications for the UK, which introduced a sugar tax on soft drinks in April 2018.
-end-
The study is published in the journal PLOS Medicine and involved collaboration with colleagues from Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo; The University of Chile, Santiago and the Luxembourg Institute for Socio-economic Research, Luxembourg.

University of York

Related Consumption Articles:

Competitive people are more prone to drug consumption
A Psychology research team at the University of Cordoba (Spain) studied how personality influences substance abuse among young people.
No need to cut down red and processed meat consumption
The researchers performed four systematic reviews focused on randomized controlled trials and observational studies looking at the impact of red meat and processed meat consumption on cardiometabolic and cancer outcomes.
Estimate of cigarette consumption in England
Estimated total cigarette consumption in England fell by almost one-quarter between 2011 and 2018 in a study comparing survey and sales data.
Clarifying the economic value of adjusting the power consumption
The economic value of demand response that adjusts the power consumption has not been clarified.
Estimating microplastic consumption
Since the mass production of plastics began in the 1940s, the versatile polymers have spread rapidly across the globe.
Reducing water consumption in mining
Plenty of water is needed for beneficiation of mineral ores.
Does alcohol consumption have an effect on arthritis?
Several previous studies have demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption is linked with less severe disease and better quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a new Arthritis Care & Research study suggests that this might not be because drinking alcohol is beneficial.
Is alcohol consumption more helpful than harmful? It depends on your age
Studies of health effects of alcohol consumption may underestimate the risks of imbibing, particularly for younger people, according to a new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with fewer hospitalizations
A study of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of I.R.C.C.S.
Fish consumption may prolong life
Consumption of fish and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids was associated with lower risks of early death in a Journal of Internal Medicine study.
More Consumption News and Consumption Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.