Studying the consumption and health outcomes of fiscal interventions (taxes and subsidies) on food and beverages in countries of different income classifications; a systematic review.
Alagiyawanna A., Townsend N., Mytton O., Scarborough P., Roberts N., Rayner M.
BACKGROUND: Governments use fiscal interventions (FIs) on food and beverages to encourage healthy food behaviour and positive health outcomes. The objective of this review was to study the behavioural and health outcomes of implemented food and beverage FIs in the form of taxes and subsidies in countries of different income classifications. METHODS: The present systematic review was conducted in accordance with Cochrane protocols. The search was carried out on academic and grey literature in English, for studies conducted in different countries on implemented FIs on food and non-alcoholic beverages and health outcomes, with a special focus on the income of those countries. RESULTS: Eighteen studies met the inclusion criteria and 14 were from peer- reviewed journals. Thirteen studies came from high-income (HI) countries, four from upper middle-income (UMI) countries and only one came from a lower middle-income (LMI) country. There were no studies from lower-income (LI) countries. Of these 18 studies; nine focused on taxes, all of which were from HI countries. Evidence suggests that FIs on foods can influence consumption of taxed and subsidized foods and consequently have the potential to improve health. CONCLUSION: Although this review supports previous findings that FIs can have an impact on healthy food consumption, it also highlights the lack of evidence available from UMI, LMI and LI countries on such interventions. Therefore, evidence from HI countries may not be directly applicable to middle-income and LI countries. Similar research conducted in middle and low income countries will be beneficial in advocating policy makers on the effectiveness of FIs in countering the growing issues of non-communicable diseases in these countries.