Table_5_Systematic review on fiscal policy interventions in nutrition.DOCX
Both the World Health Organization and the Lancet Series on Adolescent nutrition recommend that governments adopt fiscal policies to combat diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). However, rigorous, systematic evidence regarding the effects of these interventions is lacking.Methods
We synthesize the available evidence regarding the impacts of taxes and subsidies that directly affect consumer prices on availability and accessibility of foods and beverages, purchasing behavior, diet quality, health and well-being outcomes as well as considerations for implementation, sustainability and equity.Results
Our initial search returned 2,113 de-duplicated studies, and ultimately 24 impact evaluations and two systematic reviews met final eligibility criteria and represented unique evaluations. Our meta-analysis of these studies suggests that taxes may decrease purchases of taxed beverages (SMD = −0.14 [95% CI: −0.29 to −0.07], n = 15). Results should be interpreted cautiously due to considerable heterogeneity (Q(14) = 335.19, p = 0.01, τ^2=0.03, I2 = 95.82%).Discussion
The evidence base is too limited to draw conclusions about the effects of taxes on beverages and calorie-dense foods on purchases, or on the effects of subsidies on purchasing or diet quality. Overall, the evidence base is inconclusive on whether fiscal policies can meaningfully influence the availability and accessibility of foods and beverages, diet quality, and health outcomes. Policymakers implementing fiscal policies should consider information campaigns on health benefits and health risks associated with certain food and beverage consumption. For taxes, exposure to health information may amplify signaling effects of taxes and reduce avoidance behaviors, such as cross-border shopping. Future evaluations should diversify data sources to better understand impacts on diet and health outcomes.