Public acceptability of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy: repeat cross-sectional analysis of the International Food Policy Study (2017-2019)

BMJ Open. 2021 Sep 24;11(9):e051677. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-051677.

Abstract

Objectives: To determine whether public acceptability, in terms of both support for and perceived effectiveness of, the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) changed between 4 months prior to, and 8 and 20 months after, implementation.

Design: Repeat cross-sectional online survey.

Setting: The UK.

Participants: UK respondents to the International Food Policy Study aged 18-64 years who provided information on all variables of interest in November-December 2017 (4 months prior to SDIL implementation), 2018 (8 months after) or 2019 (20 months after; n=10 284).

Outcome measures: Self-reported support for, and perceived effectiveness of, the SDIL.

Results: The adjusted logistic regression model predicted that 70% (95% CI: 68% to 72%) of participants supported the SDIL in 2017, 68% (95% CI: 67% to 70%) in 2018 and 68% (95% CI: 66% to 70%) in 2019. There was no evidence of a difference in support in 2018 vs 2017 (OR: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.81 to 1.05); or in 2019 vs 2017 (OR: 0.90; 95% CI: 0.78 to 1.03). The adjusted logistic regression model predicted that 72% (95% CI: 70% to 74%) of participants perceived the SDIL to be effective in 2017, 67% (95% CI: 65% to 69%) in 2018 and 67% (95% CI: 64% to 69%) in 2019. There was evidence that perceived effectiveness decreased a small amount in 2018 vs 2017 (OR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.69 to 0.88). The difference in 2019 vs 2017 was similar.

Conclusions: We found high support for the SDIL among UK adults and this did not change between 4 months before implementation and 8 or 20 months after. While perceived effectiveness remained high, there was evidence that this decreased slightly after implementation in 2018, but no further in 2019. Greater understanding of influences on public acceptability of effective structural public health interventions is required.

Keywords: health policy; nutrition & dietetics; public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbonated Beverages*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Taxes*
  • United Kingdom