Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages: a survey of knowledge, attitudes and behaviours

Public Health Nutr. 2012 Aug;15(8):1355-61. doi: 10.1017/S1368980011002898. Epub 2012 Jan 24.


Objective: To assess current beverage consumption patterns and anticipated reaction to an added 20 % tax on these products.

Design: A random-digit dialled telephone interview lasting 20 min was administered to assess demographics, beverage consumption behaviours and intentions regarding consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in the event of an additional tax on these beverages.

Setting: Respondents were recruited throughout the USA.

Subjects: The study included 592 adults.

Results: Sixty-nine per cent of respondents reported consuming at least one pre-packaged sugar-sweetened beverage in the past week; those who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages averaged seven pre-packaged beverages per week. Ninety-one per cent knew that frequent consumption of soft drinks increases risk of obesity. Thirty-six per cent supported a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages with greatest support among those aged 18-24 years, those with BMI < 30 kg/m2 and those with higher levels of education (P < 0·05). Over one-third of respondents said that they would cut back on their sweetened beverage consumption in the event of an added 20 % tax on these beverages.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that an added tax on these beverages could influence some to cut down on their consumption, reducing their risk of obesity and related illnesses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Beverages / economics*
  • Beverages / statistics & numerical data
  • Carbonated Beverages / economics*
  • Carbonated Beverages / statistics & numerical data
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Taxes / economics*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Sucrose