Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax: civil society organisations | World Obesity Federation

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax: civil society organisations

Obesity Health Alliance

The goal of the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) is to prevent obesity-related ill-health by addressing the influences that lead to excess bodyweight throughout life. Formed in 2015, OHA supports policy-making to tackle the social, economic and cultural factors that contribute to obesity and inequalities in health caused by obesity. It is a coalition of over 30 charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups who have joined together to fight obesity.

Policy extract: Obesity is a complex problem and there is no single silver bullet. A comprehensive range of population level policy interventions is required to tackle it. See more

Action on Sugar

Action on sugar is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and bring a reduction in the amount of sugar in processed foods.

Policy extract: Action on Sugar formulated eight recommendations for the introduction of a sugary drinks duty and also considers other foods such as confectionary, both as a lever to support behaviour change and as a means for raising revenue for public health interventions. See more


As a registered charity, Sustain is the alliance for better food and farming. It was formed by merging the National Food Alliance and Sustainable Agriculture Food and Environment (SAFE) Alliance. It advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. It represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level. (SAFE) Alliance, both of which had been established for over 10 years.

Policy extract: With the introduction of the Government’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy – commonly known as the Sugary Drinks Tax – this report reflects on the campaign and coalition of charities and champions that made it happen. See more.

World Cancer Research Fund

As a registered Charity Commission in England and Wales, the World Cancer Research Fund is a leading cancer prevention charity. We fund global research into the links between diet, weight, physical activity and cancer. Our work empowers people to take action to lead healthier, happier, cancer-free lives.

Policy extract: This brief provides a guide to available policies that can assist countries in reducing the amount of sugar consumed at a population level to meet the World Health Organisation’s sugar guidelines. See more

Policy extract: This report provides guidance about designing, defending and implementing a robust sugar-sweetened beverage tax based on the experiences from countries and local jurisdictions around the world who have attempted to implement a tax. See more

Obesity Policy Coalition

The Obesity Policy Coalition was formed in 2006 to respond to concerns regarding rates of overweight and obesity in Australia. It was established with the aim of influencing change in policy and regulation to support obesity prevention, particularly in Australian children. The broad objectives of the Obesity Policy Coalition are to identify, analyse and advocate for evidence-based policy and regulatory initiatives to reduce overweight and obesity, particularly in children, at a local, state and national level.

Policy extract: This paper discusses the need for action to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in Australia, and provides an overview of a proposed comprehensive policy approach. 

Rudd Centre for Food Policy & Obesity

Founded in 2005, the Rudd Centre for Food Policy & Obesity is a non-profit research and public policy organisation devoted to promoting solutions to childhood obesity, poor diet, and weight bias through research and policy. The Centre serves as a leading research institution and clearinghouse for resources that add to our understanding of the complex forces affecting how we eat, how we stigmatise people with obesity, and how we can change. Their mission is to promote solutions to childhood obesity, poor diet, and weight bias through research and policy.

Policy extract: The policy brief regarding sugar-sweetened beverage taxes highlights the importance to designate all or a portion of the revenue produced by a tax for programs related to health, such as nutrition or obesity prevention, especially for underserved populations. The proposed policy recommendations outlines the different types of taxes, their advantages disadvantages. See more.

National Coalition on Health Care

Created in 1990, the National Coalition on Health Care was formed to help achieve comprehensive health system change. It is a growing coalition representing more than 80 participating organisations. Today, the Coalition works to advance change across the health system through a multi-prolonged program of policy development, consensus building and advocacy. Their mission is to bring together key stakeholders to achieve an affordable, high-value health care system for patients and consumers, for employers and other payers, and for taxpayers.

Policy extract: This policy brief provides a background on the consumption of sugar, the argument for taxing sugar-sweetened beverages, the sugar-sweetened beverage tax strategy and considers other important consideration in developing an effective sugar-sweetened beverage tax. See more.

Alianza por la salud alimentaria

Coalition of civil associations, social organisations and professionals preoccupied by the overweight and obesity epidemic in Mexico, which affects the majority of the population, and malnutrition which impacts a high percentage of the poorest families, the risks that these realities present for the population, and for the health and financial viability of the country.

Policy extract: The Alianza por la salud alimentaria is commited to work collaboratively to ask to the Executive and Legislative Powers the recognition of children’s rights and the rights to food, water and health, through the urgent development and implementation of an integral policy to fight the obesity epidemic and malnutrition. Their strategy is made-up of eight key components. See more.

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change. It identifies governments and top research and advocacy organisations that have demonstrated commitment to improving the food environment and augments their efforts through the provision of resources and technical assistance.

Policy extract: Through the Obesity Prevention Program, Bloomberg Philanthropies supports governments and non-governmental organisations to put in place policies that reduce consumer demand for unhealthy foods and beverages, improve the food environment, and make healthier choices easier for everyone. The Obesity Prevention Programme lays the Foundation for Policy Reform through three mechanisms: raising awareness, policy change and conducting ground-breaking research. See more.

Food Active

Food active is a healthy weight programme, supported by North West Directors of Public Health. They work to tackle obesity and promote healthy weight across the North West population, and specifically amongst the most vulnerable.

Policy extract: Launched in 2015, the GULP campaign aims to raise awareness of the health harms associated with the over-consumption of sugary drinks. Food Active developed a series of resources designed specifically for children to help them think about sugary drinks, their effect on health, to learn how to identify sugary drinks and to understand the benefits of water in terms of educational attainment and sporting performance. See more.

International Diabetes Federation

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organisation of over 240 national diabetes associations in 168 countries and territories. IDF’s mission is to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide. IDF is engaged in action to tackle diabetes from the local to the global level – from programmes at community level to worldwide awareness and advocacy initiatives.IDF’s activities aim to influence policy, increase public awareness and encourage health improvement, promote the exchange of high-quality information about diabetes, and provide education for people with diabetes and their healthcare providers.

Policy extract: The International Diabetes Federation calls on national government to implement policies to reduce sugar consumption and advocates specific measures to increase access to healthy alternatives such as fresh fruit and vegetables and clean drinking water, in order to help prevent new cases of type 2 diabetes. Their framework for action on sugar proposes twelve clear measures order to stem the inexorable rise in cases of type 2 diabetes. 

A Closer Look – The Implementation of Taxation on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages by the Government of Barbados

In Barbados, 1 in 3 persons is living with overweight and obesity. The growing obesity epidemic has been attributed to a degree to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). This policy brief summarises the approaches that were adopted in Barbados to implement SSB taxes. It aims to increase understanding of the processes and experiences along the way, to support others in more strategic and effective advocacy on the topic. The brief was developed for other civil society organisations, policymakers in non-health ministries, and National NCD commissions.

Read more.

Tackling the global obesity epidemic: Fiscal policies and the secret to a successful sugar tax

The blog by Danielle Edge was published in the Global Nutrition Report. It discusses what should be done to improve population health and to address obesity across the world. WCRF published the NOURISHING policy framework to outline 10 policy areas that governments and decision-makers should priorities to improve the food environment, transform food systems and inspire behavior change. One of these is to ‘use economic tools to address food affordability and purchase incentives'. The blog discusses how taxation can be a useful intervention to alter production and consumption patterns. It also outlines considerations for implementing a successful tax, drawing on case studies and country experiences.

Read more. You can also download a summary of the NOURISHING database here.

Civil society organisations media quotes 

"By following the example of the seven that have already acted, cities have a golden opportunity to help their people avoid premature death and illness and cut health costs while raising revenue to make residents’ lives better in other ways" - Jim Krieger, Executive Director of Healthy Food America 

“It’s great news that the soft drinks levy is now in place. We’re all eating more sugar than is recommended and sugary soft drinks contribute to this – particularly in teens where sugary drinks are their top source of sugar. They provide empty calories and contribute not only to rising levels of obesity but also to poor dental health. Over the past year, before the levy has come into force, we’ve seen drinks companies begin to reduce the amount of sugar in their drinks to avoid the levy. We hope that trend continues and people are encouraged to choose healthier options to drink.” - Obesity Health Alliance

"The Children’s Health Fund has done a brilliant job showing how a tax on sugary drinks can bring in new money that can be funnelled into doing good things. We used it to fight holiday hunger for vulnerable kids as well as improving access to water fountains." - Jamie Oliver for the Children's Health Fund (Sustain)

“Despite Big Soda’s enormous power, sugar drinks are increasingly being removed from schools and public spaces, bold nutrition labels are being placed on products, taxes are being levied, and marketing is being regulated. […] These pioneering policies are crucial to our societies but must be strengthened and multiplied, in the face of heavy industry pushback. And most importantly, despite multi-million-dollar marketing campaigns, more and more consumers no longer associate these drinks with happiness, but with disease.” - Alejandro Calvillo Unna, Executive Director of El Poder del Consumidor

“The residents of Berkeley, who voted for sugary drink tax in their community, are now seeing the benefits of significantly reduced consumption of sugary drinks, significantly increased consumption of water and consumers are switching to healthier drinks.” - Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association

“It’s fair to say consumers are creating a demand for these low-sugar varieties.” - Jenny Rosborough,Campaign Manager at Action on Sugar

“We ran the campaign for the sugary drinks tax as the full cost to children’s health and our health service wasn’t included in the price at the till. We’re delighted that the soft drinks industry has risen to the challenge and taken tonnes of sugar out of their products. We hope that increased prices and awareness leads to a drop in consumption.” - Ben Reynolds, CEO of Sustain

“Introducing the sugary drinks tax is a great start, but it is no silver bullet to tackle childhood obesity. There is more to do. Industry spends millions on marketing foods to children, much of which is unhealthy, and now we need to turn our attention next to this.” - Ben Reynolds, CEO of Sustain

“In upholding Philadelphia’s sweetened beverage tax, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has delivered a major victory to every community that values good nutrition, better health, and strong futures for kids and families. The industry’s slick marketing campaigns cannot hide the fact that sugary drinks have no nutritional value and contribute to significantly higher risks for a variety of chronic diseases. Philadelphia’s tax is working exactly as intended—sales of sweetened beverages have declined and the revenue raised has funded thousands of pre-k seats, new community schools, and upgrades to parks, recreation centers and libraries. We urge other cities across the country and around the world to follow Philadelphia’s example and put consumers’ health ahead of industry profits.” - Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies

“Who, when they are thirsty, reaches for a chocolate bar? The evidence from Mexico and other countries [that] have introduced a sugary-drinks tax is clear: consumption of those drinks goes down, the price of diet drinks does not increase and there is no evidence that consumption of sugary foods has increased.” - Malcolm Clark, Spokeman for the Children's Food Campaign