Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVE: To determine changes in household purchases of drinks 1 year after implementation of the UK soft drinks industry levy (SDIL). DESIGN: Controlled interrupted time series. PARTICIPANTS: Households reporting their purchasing to a market research company (average weekly n=22 091), March 2014 to March 2019. INTERVENTION: A two-tiered tax levied on soft drinks manufacturers, announced in March 2016 and implemented in April 2018. Drinks with ≥8 g sugar/100 mL (high tier) are taxed at £0.24/L, drinks with ≥5 to <8 g sugar/100 mL (low tier) are taxed at £0.18/L. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Absolute and relative differences in the volume of, and amount of sugar in, soft drinks categories, all soft drinks combined, alcohol and confectionery purchased per household per week 1 year after implementation. RESULTS: In March 2019, compared with the counterfactual, purchased volume of high tier drinks decreased by 140.8 mL (95% CI 104.3 to 177.3 mL) per household per week, equivalent to 37.8% (28.0% to 47.6%), and sugar purchased in these drinks decreased by 16.2 g (13.5 to 18.8 g), or 42.6% (35.6% to 49.6%). Purchases of low tier drinks decreased by 170.5 mL (154.5 to 186.5 mL) or 85.8% (77.8% to 93.9%), with an 11.5 g (9.1 to 13.9 g) reduction in sugar in these drinks, equivalent to 87.8% (69.2% to 106.4%). When all soft drinks were combined irrespective of levy tier or eligibility, the volume of drinks purchased increased by 188.8 mL (30.7 to 346.9 mL) per household per week, or 2.6% (0.4% to 4.7%), but sugar decreased by 8.0 g (2.4 to 13.6 g), or 2.7% (0.8% to 4.5%). Purchases of confectionery and alcoholic drinks did not increase. CONCLUSIONS: Compared with trends before the SDIL was announced, 1 year after implementation, volume of all soft drinks purchased combined increased by 189 mL, or 2.6% per household per week. The amount of sugar in those drinks was 8 g, or 2.7%, lower per household per week. Further studies should determine whether and how apparently small effect sizes translate into health outcomes. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN18042742.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ open

Publication Date