Estimating the health impacts of sugar-sweetened beverage tax for informing policy decisions about the obesity burden in Vietnam
Nguyen DT., Van Hoang M., Dao S., Do PH., Nguyen QD., Jewell J., Amies-Cull B., Muthu M., Hoang LN., Le TT., Nguyen AT., Tran BQ., O’Neill C.
Background Taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been adopted in more than 40 countries but remained under discussion in Vietnam. This study aimed to estimate the health impacts of different SSBs tax plans currently under discussion to provide an evidence base to inform decision-making about a SSBs tax policy in Vietnam. Method & findings Five tax scenarios were modelled, representing three levels of price increase: 5%, 11% and 19–20%. Scenarios of the highest price increase were assessed across three different tax designs: ad valorem, volume-based specific tax & sugar-based specific tax. We modelled SSBs consumption in each tax scenario; how this reduction in consumption translates to a reduction in total energy intake and how this relationship in turn translates to an average change in body weight and obesity status among adults by applying the calorie-to weight conversion factor. Changes in type 2 diabetes burden were then calculated based on the change in average BMI of the modelled cohort. A Monte Carlo simulation approach was applied on the conversion factor of weight change and diabetes risk reduction for the sensitivity analysis. We found that the taxation that involved a 5% price increase gave relatively small impacts while increasing SSBs’ price up to 20% appeared to impact substantially on overweight and obesity rates (reduction of 12.7% and 12.4% respectively) saving 27 million USD for direct medical cost. The greatest reduction was observed for overweight and obesity class I. The decline in overweight and obesity rates was slightly higher for women than men. Conclusion This study supports the SSB tax policy in pursuit of public health benefits, especially where the tax increase involves around a 20% price increase. The health benefit and revenue gains were evident across all three tax designs with the specific tax based on sugar density achieving greatest effects.