Background: Increasing evidence associates excess refined sugar intakes with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Worryingly, the estimated volume of sugary drinks purchased in the UK has more than doubled between 1975 and 2007, from 510 ml to 1140 ml per person per week. We aimed to estimate the potential impact of a duty on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) at a local level in England, hypothesising that a duty could reduce obesity and related diseases.
Methods and findings: We modelled the potential impact of a 20% sugary drinks duty on local authorities in England between 2010 and 2030. We synthesised data obtained from the British National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), drinks manufacturers, Office for National Statistics, and from previous studies. This produced a modelled population of 41 million adults in 326 lower tier local authorities in England. This analysis suggests that a 20% SSB duty could result in approximately 2,400 fewer diabetes cases, 1,700 fewer stroke and coronary heart disease cases, 400 fewer cancer cases, and gain some 41,000 Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) per year across England. The duty might have the biggest impact in urban areas with young populations.
Conclusions: This study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting health benefits for a duty on sugary drinks. It might also usefully provide results at an area level to inform local price interventions in England.