We investigated whether taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) would improve the diets of households in Brazil.Methods
We used household food consumption data that the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics collected in 2002-2003 from a nationally representative sample of 48 470 Brazilian households. The consumption of SSBs is expressed as the total SSB calories consumed and as the SSB percentage of the total calories purchased. We investigated price elasticity with regression models, controlling for demographic variables, income, and prices of all other foods and drinks.Results
Increases in the price of SSBs led to reductions in consumption. A 1.00% increase in the price of SSBs led to a 0.85% reduction of SSB calories consumed (1.03% reduction for the poor and 0.63% for the nonpoor). Increased income had a positive effect on SSB consumption, but the effect was less than half the size of the price elasticity (0.41% increase in SSB calories consumed for every 1.00% increase in income).Conclusions
High SSB price elasticity in Brazil indicates that a tax on purchased weight or volume would lead to reductions in SSB consumption.