Impact of the announcement and implementation of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy on sugar content, price, product size and number of available soft drinks in the UK, 2015-19: A controlled interrupted time series analysis

Autoři: Peter Scarborough aff001;  Vyas Adhikari aff001;  Richard A. Harrington aff001;  Ahmed Elhussein aff002;  Adam Briggs aff001;  Mike Rayner aff001;  Jean Adams aff004;  Steven Cummins aff005;  Tarra Penney aff004;  Martin White aff004
Působiště autorů: Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Big Data Institute, Headington, Oxford, United Kingdom aff001;  Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America aff002;  Warwick Medical School, The University of Warwick, Division of Health Sciences, Coventry, United Kingdom aff003;  Centre for Diet & Activity Research, MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, United Kingdom aff004;  Population Health Innovation Lab, Department of Public Health, Environments & Society, Faculty of Public Health & Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom aff005
Vyšlo v časopise: Impact of the announcement and implementation of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy on sugar content, price, product size and number of available soft drinks in the UK, 2015-19: A controlled interrupted time series analysis. PLoS Med 17(2): e32767. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1003025
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003025



Dietary sugar, especially in liquid form, increases risk of dental caries, adiposity, and type 2 diabetes. The United Kingdom Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) was announced in March 2016 and implemented in April 2018 and charges manufacturers and importers at £0.24 per litre for drinks with over 8 g sugar per 100 mL (high levy category), £0.18 per litre for drinks with 5 to 8 g sugar per 100 mL (low levy category), and no charge for drinks with less than 5 g sugar per 100 mL (no levy category). Fruit juices and milk-based drinks are exempt. We measured the impact of the SDIL on price, product size, number of soft drinks on the marketplace, and the proportion of drinks over the lower levy threshold of 5 g sugar per 100 mL.

Methods and findings

We analysed data on a total of 209,637 observations of soft drinks over 85 time points between September 2015 and February 2019, collected from the websites of the leading supermarkets in the UK. The data set was structured as a repeat cross-sectional study. We used controlled interrupted time series to assess the impact of the SDIL on changes in level and slope for the 4 outcome variables. Equivalent models were run for potentially levy-eligible drink categories (‘intervention’ drinks) and levy-exempt fruit juices and milk-based drinks (‘control’ drinks). Observed results were compared with counterfactual scenarios based on extrapolation of pre-SDIL trends. We found that in February 2019, the proportion of intervention drinks over the lower levy sugar threshold had fallen by 33.8 percentage points (95% CI: 33.3–34.4, p < 0.001). The price of intervention drinks in the high levy category had risen by £0.075 (£0.037–0.115, p < 0.001) per litre—a 31% pass through rate—whilst prices of intervention drinks in the low levy category and no levy category had fallen and risen by smaller amounts, respectively. Whilst the product size of branded high levy and low levy drinks barely changed after implementation of the SDIL (−7 mL [−23 to 11 mL] and 16 mL [6–27ml], respectively), there were large changes to product size of own-brand drinks with an increase of 172 mL (133–214 mL) for high levy drinks and a decrease of 141 mL (111–170 mL) for low levy drinks. The number of available drinks that were in the high levy category when the SDIL was announced was reduced by 3 (−6 to 12) by the implementation of the SDIL. Equivalent models for control drinks provided little evidence of impact of the SDIL. These results are not sales weighted, so do not give an account of how sugar consumption from drinks may have changed over the time period.


The results suggest that the SDIL incentivised many manufacturers to reduce sugar in soft drinks. Some of the cost of the levy to manufacturers and importers was passed on to consumers as higher prices but not always on targeted drinks. These changes could reduce population exposure to liquid sugars and associated health risks.

Klíčová slova:

Beverages – Data acquisition – Extrapolation – Childhood obesity – Milk – Public and occupational health – Taxes – Type 2 diabetes


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PLOS Medicine

2020 Číslo 2

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