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Research Updates | Obesity / Overweight

Soft drink prices, sales, body mass index and diabetes

15 / 03 / 18

Sales of soft drinks is associated with overweight and obesity, but only in lower income countries.  Soft drinks sales are unrelated to diabetes prevalence. Policy directed at reducing soft drink consumption in lower income countries may be beneficial for weight, although the effect is small.

This ecological study compared data from 78 countries over a 15-year period 1999-2014 to assess the relationship between carbonated soft drink sales and soft drink prices with body mass index (BMI), overweight, obesity and diabetes.

Using multivariate regression longitudinal estimation approaches, they found significant positive correlations between carbonated soft drink sales and BMI, overweight and obesity, but only in the low and lower-middle income countries, however the effect is small. In this sub-group, an increase in per-capita soft drink sales by 1 litre per year related to an increase of 0.009kg/m2 BMI, which translates to a drop in BMI of 0.03kg/m2 from halving of soft drink consumption. Bottled water sales were unrelated to weight.

A price elasticity was found but was most pronounced in higher income countries where each 1% increase in price is related to a 0.3% fall in sales.

Although higher soft drink prices were negatively related to weight outcomes in higher-middle and high-income countries, this did not stand up to falsification checks. 

Goryakin Y, Monsivais P, Suhrcke M. Soft drink prices, sales, body mass index and diabetes: evidence from a panel of low-, middle- and high-income countries. Food Policy 2017; Vol 73:p88-94