Purpose of Review
Interest in taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages as a public health tool has increased in recent years. This paper aimed to summarise recent evidence of the impact of taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages on food purchases, and discuss opportunities to advance knowledge and policy impact.
Evaluations of taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages have shown reductions in purchases of targeted unhealthy products and nutrients. Similarly, data from multiple sources demonstrate that as prices of unhealthy foods and beverages increase, purchase volume decreases. However, studies indicate potential for substitution to non-taxed unhealthy foods, which needs to be factored into taxation design.
Taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages are a promising strategy to improve population diets. Further research is required to understand food industry responses to tax implementation, as well as the impact of taxes on population and planetary health outcomes.
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G.S. and K.B. were supported by Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowships (102035, 102047) from the National Heart Foundation of Australia. G.S. is a researcher within a NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence entitled Reducing Salt Intake Using Food Policy Interventions (APP1117300) and a NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health (APP1152968).
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Sacks, G., Kwon, J. & Backholer, K. Do taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages influence food purchases?. Curr Nutr Rep 10, 179–187 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-021-00358-0