Global Coverage and Design of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes

Libby Hattersley, PhD; Kate L. Mandeville, PhD
JAMA Network
Resource type:
Peer review

Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes are gaining in popularity. The lack of a comprehensive repository of standardized data on SSB taxes and their designs, however, has stymied understanding of current practice in SSB taxes. The objective of this study is to assess the coverage and design of SSB taxes worldwide using the new Global SSB Tax Database.  Sugar-sweetened beverage taxes were collated from existing data sources, hand-searching of peer-reviewed and gray literature, and an internet search. Relevant legislation was identified to verify each tax and extract data on designs.

The findings show that  A total of 118 taxes were verified, including 105 national and 13 subnational taxes. National SSB taxes are in effect in 103 countries and territories, covering 51% of the world’s population. A total of 67% of people living in low-income and 73% in lower-middle–income economies are covered by national SSB taxes, compared with 29% in upper-middle–income and high-income economies. National SSB taxes cover 98% of the population in South Asia compared with only 10% in East Asia and the Pacific. Most SSB taxes are excise taxes (104 of 118 [88%]). Excise taxes in high-income economies are mostly specific (27 of 36 [75%]), whereas ad valorem and mixed taxes are more common in low- and middle-income economies (36 of 66 [55%]). Most specific excise taxes are based on volume only (54 of 59 [92%]), with just 3 jurisdictions applying purely sugar-specific excise taxes. More than half of excise taxes worldwide (55 of 104 [53%]) apply tiered rates, with tiers more commonly defined by beverage type (41 of 55 [75%]) than by sugar content (18 of 55 [33%]). Tiers defined by sugar content are mainly used in high-income countries (13 of 18 [72%]) and Europe and Central Asia (10 of 18 [56%]). Almost one-third of excise taxes worldwide (30 of 104 [29%]) and almost half of excise taxes in low- and middle-income economies (28 of 66 [42%]) apply to unsweetened bottled water.

 This study provides a comprehensive review of global coverage and design of SSB taxes. Sugar-sweetened beverage tax coverage is higher than previously reported, with clear differences in designs between regions and income groups. These findings can inform a more empirically grounded approach to SSB tax guidance.


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This resource has been peer reviewed