Evaluating the 2014 Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax in Chile: An Observational Study in Urban Areas

Ryota Nakamura, Andrew Mirelman, Cristóbal Cuadrado, Nicolás Silva, Jocelyn Dunstan, Marc Suhrcke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In October 2014, Chile implemented a tax modification on SSBs called the Impuesto Adicional a las Bebidas Analcohólicas (IABA). The design of the tax was unique, increasing the tax on soft drinks above 6.25 grams of added sugar per 100 millilitres and decreasing the tax for those below this threshold.
Methods and Findings
This study evaluates Chile’s sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) tax, which was announced in March 2014 and implemented in October 2014. We used household level grocery purchasing data from 2011 to 2015, for 2,836 households living in cities and representative of the urban population of Chile. We employed a fixed-effects econometric approach and estimated the before-after change in purchasing of SSBs controlling for seasonality, general time trend, temperature, economic fluctuations as well as time invariant household characteristics. Results showed significant changes in purchasing for the statistically preferred model: while there was a barely significant decrease in the
volume of all soft drinks, there was a highly significant decrease in the monthly purchased volume of the higher taxed, sugary soft drinks by 21.6%. The direction of this reduction was robust to different empirical modelling approaches, but the statistical significance and the magnitude of the changes varied considerably. The reduction in soft drink purchasing was most evident amongst higher socioeconomic groups and higher pre-tax purchasers of
sugary soft drinks. There was no systematic, robust pattern in the estimates by
households’ obesity status. After tax implementation, the purchase prices of soft drinks decreased for the items where the tax rate was reduced, but remained unchanged for sugary items, for which the tax was increased. However, the purchase prices increased for sugary soft drinks at the time of the policy announcement. The main limitations include a lack of a randomized design limiting the extent of causal inference possible, and the focus on purchasing data, rather than consumption or health outcomes.
The results of sub-group analyses suggest that the policy may have been partially effective, though not necessarily in ways that are likely to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in diet-related health. It remains unclear, whether the policy has had a major, overall population level impact. Additionally, since the present study examined purchasing of soft drinks for only one year, a longer-term evaluation, ideally including an assessment of the consumption and health impacts, should be conducted in future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1002596
Number of pages22
JournalPlos medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Nakamura et al.


  • TAX
  • Chile
  • Sugar-sweetened beverage
  • Impact evaluation

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