Association of media and messaging on the impact of the Seattle sugar-sweetened beverage tax

Katherine Holzhauer | 2022

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Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) has been linked with poor health outcomes such as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. Public health and policy experts have been increasingly turning to fiscal policy as a potential strategy to lower consumption of excess sugar from SSBs. However, there is evidence that the public acceptance and success of such policies depends on public support. This study builds on this prior work to investigate the impact of public support and the importance of messaging (hearing or reading anything about the tax) on lowering consumption of SSBs. A cross-sectional, population-based, mixed-mode survey of Seattle residents was conducted in 2019, following implementation of the Seattle SSB tax. Twenty-five percent of participants reported seeing, hearing, or reading something positive about the Seattle SSB tax, and 45% reported seeing, hearing, or reading something negative about the tax. For participants exposed to negative messaging about the tax, the odds of reporting a lowering of SSB consumption due to the tax were 3.12 times higher (Odds Ratio [OR]: 3.12; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.92, 5.07) compared to those not exposed to negative messaging. The odds of lowering SSB consumption did not significantly differ between participants exposed to positive messaging and those not exposed (OR: 0.60; 95% CI: 0.35, 1.03). Results suggest that any messaging about the SSB tax is associated with lowering SSB consumption.