SSB Taxes - Government guidelines and policy recommendations extract

Using price policies to promote healthier diets

This publication provides information on the use of price policies to promote healthy diets and explores policy developments from around the World Health Organisation European Region. It examines the economic theory underpinning the use of subsidies and taxation and explores the currently available evidence. Collectively, the evidence suggests that price policies applied to food can influence what consumers buy and could contribute to improving health by shifting consumption in the desired direction and supporting healthier diets.

The primary effect of price policies is to influence point-of-purchase decision-making by changing the price that the consumer pays. This affects both the purchase of the foods and or/nutrients targeted by the tax and close substitutes and other foods. The ultimate impact of the price policy will be affected by the extent to which the price increase or decrease is passed on to consumers. Evidence suggests that taxes are more effective when applied to non-core foods for which there

are close untaxed healthy alternatives (for example, sugar sugar-sweetened beverages versus diet sodas or water). Targeted subsidies on fruit and vegetables are effective at increasing consumption. Such targeted approaches are likely to be less administratively burdensome.