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A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) has been proposed to address population weight gain but the effect across socio-economic position (SEP) is unclear. The current study aimed to clarify the differential impact(s) of SSB taxes on beverage purchases and consumption, weight outcomes and the amount paid in SSB taxes according to SEP.
Databases (OVID and EMBASE) and grey literature were systematically searched in June 2015 to identify studies that examined effects of an SSB price increase on beverage purchases or consumption, weight outcomes or the amount paid in tax across SEP, within high-income countries.
Of the eleven included articles, three study types were identified: (i) those that examined the association between variation in SSB taxes and SSB consumption and/or body weight (n 3); (ii) price elasticity estimation of SSB demand (n 1); and (iii) modelling of hypothetical SSB taxes by combining price elasticity estimates with population SEP-specific beverage consumption, energy intake or body weight (n 7). Few studies statistically tested differences in outcomes between SEP groups. Nevertheless, of the seven studies that reported on changes in weight outcomes for the total population following an increase in SSB price, all reported either similar reductions in weight across SEP groups or greater reductions for lower compared with higher SEP groups. All studies that examined the average household amount paid in tax (n 5) reported that an SSB tax would be regressive, but with small differences between higher- and lower-income households (0·10–1·0 % and 0·03 %–0·60 % of annual household income paid in SSB tax for low- and high-income households, respectively).
Based on the available evidence, a tax on SSB will deliver similar population weight benefits across socio-economic strata or greater benefits for lower SEP groups. An SSB tax is shown to be consistently financially regressive, but to a small degree.
We aimed to investigate the association between multiple measures of socio-economic position (SEP) and diet quality, using a diet quality index representing current national dietary guidelines, in the Australian adult population.
Cross-sectional study. Linear regression analyses were used to estimate the association between indicators of SEP (educational attainment, level of income and area-level disadvantage) and diet quality (measured using the Dietary Guideline Index (DGI)) in the total sample and stratified by sex and age (≤55 years and >55 years).
A large randomly selected sample of the Australian adult population.
Australian adults (n 9296; aged ≥25 years) from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study.
A higher level of educational attainment and income and a lower level of area-level disadvantage were significantly associated with a higher DGI score, across the gradient of SEP. The association between indicators of SEP and DGI score was consistently stronger among those aged ≤55 years compared with their older counterparts. The most disadvantaged group had a DGI score between 2 and 5 units lower (depending on the marker of SEP) compared with the group with the least disadvantage.
A higher level of SEP was consistently associated with a higher level of diet quality for all indicators of SEP examined. In order to reduce socio-economic inequalities in diet quality, healthy eating initiatives need to act across the gradient of socio-economic disadvantage with a proportionate focus on those with greater socio-economic disadvantage.
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