Differential Responses to Food Price Changes by Personal Characteristic: A Systematic Review of Experimental Studies.
Mizdrak A., Scarborough P., Waterlander WE., Rayner M.
BACKGROUND: Fiscal interventions to improve population diet have been recommended for consideration by many organisations including the World Health Organisation and the United Nations and policies such as sugar-sweetened beverage taxes have been implemented at national and sub-national levels. However, concerns have been raised with respect to the differential impact of fiscal interventions on population sub-groups and this remains a barrier to implementation. OBJECTIVE: To examine how personal characteristics (such as socioeconomic status, sex, impulsivity, and income) moderate changes in purchases of targeted foods in response to food and beverage price changes in experimental settings. DESIGN: Systematic review. DATA SOURCES: Online databases (PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, EconLit and PsycInfo), reference lists of previous reviews, and additional data from study authors. STUDY SELECTION: We included randomised controlled trials where food and beverage prices were manipulated and reported differential effects of the intervention on participant sub-groups defined according to personal characteristics. DATA ANALYSIS: Where possible, we extracted data to enable the calculation of price elasticities for the target foods by personal characteristic. RESULTS: 8 studies were included in the review. Across studies, the difference in price elasticity varied from 0.02 to 2.43 between groups within the same study. 11 out of the total of 18 comparisons of own-price elasticity estimates by personal characteristic differed by more than 0.2 between groups. Income related factors were the most commonly considered and there was an indication that own-price elasticity estimates do vary by income but the direction of this effect was not clear. CONCLUSION: Experimental studies provide an opportunity to examine the differential effects of fiscal measures to improve population diets. Patterns in price sensitivity by personal characteristics are complex. General conclusions pertaining to the effects of personal characteristics on price sensitivity are not supported by the evidence, which shows heterogeneity between studies and populations. TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42014009705.