Effectiveness and Policy Determinants of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes

L. L. Hagenaars, P. P. T. Jeurissen, N. S. Klazinga, S. Listl, M. Jevdjevic

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Sugar consumption is on the rise globally with detrimental (oral) health effects. There is ample evidence that sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes can efficiently reduce sugar consumption. However, evidence alone is seldom enough to implement a policy. In this article, we present a narrative synthesis of evidence, based on real-world SSB tax evaluations, and we combine this with lessons from policy development case studies. This article is structured according to the Health Policy Analysis Triangle, which identifies a policy’s content and process and important contextual factors. SSB tax policy content needs to be coupled to existing problems and public sentiment, which depend on more aspects than aspects related to (oral) health alone. Whether or not to include artificially sweetened beverages, therefore, is not solely a matter of showing the evidence of their oral health impact but also dependent on the stated aim of a tax and public sentiment toward tax policies in general. SSB taxes also need to be in line with existing tax and decision-making rules. Earmarking revenue for specific (health promotion) purposes may therefore be less straightforward as it might appear. The policy process of creating context-sensitive SSB tax policy content is not easy either. Advocacy coalitions need to be formed early in the process, and stamina, expertise, and flexibility are required to get a SSB tax adopted in a specific community. This requires a meticulously considered SSB tax structure implementation process. Oral health professionals who want to lead the way in advocating for SSB taxes should realize that evidence-based arguments on potential effectiveness alone will not be enough to realize change. The oral health community can learn important lessons from other “doctor-activists” such as pulmonologists, who have successfully advocated for higher tobacco taxes by being visible in the public debate with clear messaging and robust policy proposals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1444-1451
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number13
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • SSBs
  • fiscal policy
  • health policy
  • nutrition policy
  • obesity
  • politics

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