Effects of a price increase on purchases of sugar sweetened beverages. Results from a randomized controlled trial.Appetite. 2014 Jul; 78:32-9.A
Sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes are receiving increased political interest. However, there have been no experimental studies of the effects of price increases on SSBs or the effects on close substitutes such as diet drinks, alcohol or sugary snacks. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the effects of a price increase on SSBs on beverage and snack purchases using a randomized controlled design within a three-dimensional web-based supermarket. The trial contained two conditions: experimental condition with a 19% tax on SSBs (to reflect an increase in Dutch value added tax from 6% to 19%); and a control condition with regular prices. N = 102 participants were randomized and purchased groceries on a single occasion at a three-dimensional Virtual Supermarket. Data were analysed using independent t-tests and regression analysis. Results showed that participants in the price increase condition purchased significantly less SSBs than the control group (B = -.90; 95% CI = -1.70 to -.10 L per household per week). There were no significant effects on purchases in other beverage or snack food categories. This means that the higher VAT rate was effective in reducing SSB purchases and had no negative side-effects.