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Price discounting as a hidden risk factor of energy drink consumption



Global consumption of caffeinated energy drinks (CED) has been increasing dramatically despite increasing evidence of their adverse health effects. Temporary price discounting is a rarely investigated but potentially powerful food marketing tactic influencing purchasing of CED. Using grocery transaction records generated by food stores in Montreal, we investigated the association between price discounting and purchasing of CED across socio-economic status operationalized by education and income levels in store neighbourhood.


The outcome, log-transformed weekly store-level sales of CED, was modelled as a function of store-level percent price discounting, store- and neighbourhood-level confounders, and an interaction term between discounting and each of tertile education and income in store neighbourhood. The model was separately fit to transactions from supermarkets, pharmacies, supercentres, and convenience stores.


There were 18,743, 12,437, 3965, and 49,533 weeks of CED sales from supermarkets, pharmacies, supercentres, and convenience stores, respectively. Percent price discounting was positively associated with log sales of CED for all store types, and the interaction between education and discounting was prominent in supercentres: −0.039 [95% confidence interval (CI): −0.051, −0.028] and −0.039 [95% CI: −0.057, −0.021], for middle- and high-education neighbourhoods relative to low-education neighbourhoods, respectively. Relative to low-income areas, the associations of discounting and log CED sales in supercentres for neighbourhoods with middle- and high-income tertile were 0.022 [95% CI: 0.010, 0.033] and 0.015 (95% CI: −0.001, 0.031), respectively.


Price discounting is an important driver of CED consumption and has a varying impact across community education and income.



La consommation de boissons énergisantes contenant de la caféine (BEC) a augmenté malgré leurs effets néfastes sur la santé. L’escompte sur les prix fait rarement l’objet d’une étude, mais serait potentiellement une puissante tactique de marketing encourageant l’achat de BEC. À l’aide des registres de transactions d’épiceries montréalaises, nous avons étudié la corrélation entre les rabais et les ventes de BEC selon la situation socio-économique − scolarité et revenu − du quartier.


Les ventes hebdomadaires de BEC en magasins ont régressé en fonction du pourcentage de remise, des facteurs de confusion et d’une interaction entre la remise et le niveau de scolarité et revenu d’un quartier, séparément des transactions des grandes surfaces, pharmacies, supermarchés et dépanneurs.


Il y a eu 18 743, 12 437, 3 965 et 49 533 semaines de vente BEC dans les grandes surfaces, pharmacies, supermarchés et dépanneurs. Le pourcentage d’actualisation était positivement associé aux ventes de BEC. L’interaction avec l’éducation au tercile était importante dans les supercentres : −0,039 [intervalle de confiance (IC) à 95% : −0,051, −0,028] et −0,039 [IC à 95% : −0,057, −0,021], pour les quartiers au niveau d’éducation moyenne et élevée par rapport aux quartiers au niveau d’éducation faible, respectivement. L’interaction avec le revenu dans les supercentres était de 0,022 [IC à 95% : 0,010, 0,033] et de 0,015 (IC à 95% : −0,001, 0,031) pour le quartier avec tertile à revenu moyen et élevé, respectivement.


L’actualisation augmente les achats de BEC avec un impact variable selon l’éducation et le revenu d’une communauté.

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We wish to thank Cindy Lao for her time to proofread the texts and translate the abstract.


This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Foundation Grant (#CIHR FDN-167267). EMM is supported by a chercheur boursier career award from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé. AMS acknowledges the support of a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada. YM is supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC- 435-2018-0631). DLB is supported by the Canada Research Chair Program.

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The study was conceived and designed by HM. EMM and AMS provided inputs on the statistical analysis and interpretation of the results. YM and DLB provided the data and substantive knowledge to aid study design and interpretation of the results. Data analysis and drafting of manuscript were performed by HM. All authors reviewed and commented on the manuscript, and they approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Hiroshi Mamiya.

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Mamiya, H., Moodie, E.E.M., Schmidt, A.M. et al. Price discounting as a hidden risk factor of energy drink consumption. Can J Public Health 112, 638–646 (2021).

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  • Public health nutrition
  • Energy drinks
  • Food marketing
  • Food environment
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages


  • Nutrition santé publique
  • boissons énergisantes
  • marketing alimentaire
  • environnement alimentaire
  • boissons sucrées