Public Support For Taxes on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Still Low Interview with:
JeffJeff Niederdeppe Assistant Professor Department of Communication Cornell University. Niederdeppe
Assistant Professor Department of Communication
Cornell University. What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: We conducted an Internet-based survey (N = 1319) with a nationally-representative sample of U.S. adults aged 18–64 during the fall of 2012. Americans voiced the highest levels of support for calorie labeling (65%) and removing drinks from schools (62%), and the lowest support for taxes (22%) or portion size restrictions (26%). Americans were evenly split on whether or not they support restricting sugary drink to children (50%) and requiring TV stations to air ads promoting healthy eating and exercise equal to the time used to advertise for sugary drinks (51%). Democrats and those with negative views of soda companies are more likely to support each of these policies. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: We were surprised at the strength of relationship between attitudes toward soda companies and support for each of these policies. Increasingly, health advocacy groups have focused attention on the behavior of the beverage industry, highlighting their marketing tactics aimed at young people and their heavily-funded efforts to oppose regulation. And similarly to the patterns we’ve seen over the years with big tobacco companies, people with negative views of soda companies are much more strongly in favor of stricter regulations on their products What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Answer: Many efforts are currently underway to convince people to reduce consumption of sugary drinks. Our study provides a snapshot of where Americans stand on various strategies to curb their consumption. Interestingly, unlike many other health issues like alcohol and tobacco, parents have not yet been mobilized to advocate for policy strategies to change their children’s beverage consumption. Clinicians still have an important role to play in promoting healthy diets among parents and children, including reducing consumption of sugary drinks. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: While this study provides a national perspective on these policies, many of these debates will play out in local jurisdictions. Future work should carefully monitor these political debates to understand which policies can gain support (or rally opposition) in different types of communities across the country. Research should also carefully evaluate the effectiveness of these policies in reducing consumption when passed and implemented.


Taxes on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Results from a 2011 National Public Opinion Survey

Colleen L. Barry, Jeff Niederdeppe, Sarah E. Gollust

American Journal of Preventive Medicine – February 2013 (Vol. 44, Issue 2, Pages 158-163, DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.09.065)

Last Updated on June 4, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD