An umbrella review of the acceptability of fiscal and pricing policies to reduce diet-related noncommunicable disease

Luke E Barry, Frank Kee, Jayne Woodside, John Cawley, Edel Doherty, Mike Clarke, Grainne E Crealey, Jim Duggan, Ciaran O'Neill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Poor diet has been implicated in a range of noncommunicable diseases. Fiscal and pricing policies (FPs) may offer a means by which consumption of food and non-alcoholic beverages with links to such diseases can be influenced to improve public health.

To examine the acceptability of FPs to reduce diet-related noncommunicable disease, based on systematic review evidence.

Data Sources
MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsychInfo, SCI, SSCI, Web of Science, Scopus, EconLit, the Cochrane Library, Epistemonikos, and the Campbell Collaboration Library were searched for relevant studies published between January 1, 1990 and June 2021.

Data Extraction
The studies included systematic reviews of diet-related FPs and: used real-world evidence; examined real or perceived barriers/facilitators; targeted the price of food or non-alcoholic beverages; and applied to entire populations within a jurisdiction. A total of 9996 unique relevant records were identified, which were augmented by a search of bibliographies and recommendations from an external expert advisory panel. Following screening, 4 systematic reviews remained.

Data Analysis
Quality appraisal was conducted using the AMSTAR 2 tool. A narrative synthesis was undertaken, with outcomes grouped according to the WHO-INTEGRATE criteria. The findings indicated a paucity of high-quality systematic review evidence and limited public support for the use of FPs to change dietary habits. This lack of support was related to a number of factors that included: their perceived potential to be regressive; a lack of transparency, ie, there was mistrust around the use of revenues raised; a paucity of evidence around health benefits; the deliberate choice of rates that were lower than those considered necessary to affect diet; and concerns about the potential of such FPs to harm economic outcomes such as employment.

The findings underscore the need for high-quality systematic review evidence on this topic, and the importance of responding to public concerns and putting in place mechanisms to address these when implementing FPs. This study was funded by Safefood [02A-2020].

Systematic Review Registration
PROSPERO registration no. CRD42021274454.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbernuad011
Number of pages22
JournalNutrition Reviews
Early online date28 Feb 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 28 Feb 2023


  • barrier
  • fiscal
  • facilitator
  • acceptability
  • umbrella
  • diet


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