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The effect of beverage taxes on youth consumption and body mass index: Evidence from Mauritius

John Cawley (), Michael Daly and Rebecca Thornton

Health Economics, 2022, vol. 31, issue 6, 1033-1045

Abstract: Taxes on sugar‐sweetened beverages (SSBs) are relatively new and there is limited evidence about their impact on SSB consumption or body mass index (BMI) (as opposed to prices, purchases, or sales), their impact on youth (as opposed to adults), or their impact in non‐Western nations. This paper adds to the evidence across all these dimensions by estimating the effect of an SSB tax on SSB consumption and the BMI of youth in Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, which we compare to Maldives, another island nation which did not implement an SSB tax during the time of our data. Results of difference‐in‐differences models indicate that the tax in Mauritius had no detectable impact on the consumption of SSBs or the BMI of the pooled sample of boys and girls. However, models estimated separately by sex indicate that the probability that boys consumed SSBs fell by 9.4 percentage points (11%). These are among the first estimates of the effect of SSB taxes on youth consumption and contribute to the limited evidence on the impact of SSB taxes on weight, and in non‐Western countries.

Date: 2022
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