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    The Ethics of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to Improve Public Health

    Goiana-da-Silva, Francisco and Cruz-e-Silva, David and Bartlett, Oliver and Vasconcelos, Joana and Morais Nunes, Alexandre and Ashrafian, Hutan and Miraldo, Marisa and Machado, Maria do Céu and Araújo, Fernando and Darzi, Ara (2020) The Ethics of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to Improve Public Health. Frontiers in Public Health, 8 (110). ISSN 2296-2565

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    The World Health Organization highlights fiscal policies as priority interventions for the promotion of healthy eating in its Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases. The taxation of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) in particular is noted to be an effective measure, and SSBs taxes have already been implemented in several countries worldwide. However, although the evidence base suggests that this will be effective in helping to combat rising obesity rates, opponents of SSBs taxation argue that it is illiberal and paternalistic, and therefore should be avoided. Bioethical analysis may play an essential role in clarifying whether policymakers should adopt SSBs taxes as part of wider obesity strategy. In this article we argue that no single ethical theory can account for the complexities inherent in obesity prevention strategy, especially the liberal theories relied upon by opponents of SSBs taxation. We contend that a pluralist approach to the ethics of SSBs taxation must be adopted as the only suitable way of accounting for the multiple overlapping, and sometimes, conflicting factors that are relevant to determining the moral acceptability of such an intervention.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Copyright © 2020 Goiana-da-Silva, Cruz-e-Silva, Bartlett, Vasconcelos, Morais Nunes, Ashrafian, Miraldo, Machado, Araújo and Darzi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) ( The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Cite as: Goiana-da-Silva F, Cruz-e-Silva D, Bartlett O, Vasconcelos J, Morais Nunes A, Ashrafian H, Miraldo M, Machado MC, Araújo F and Darzi A (2020) The Ethics of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to Improve Public Health. Front. Public Health 8:110. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00110
    Keywords: sweetened beverages; taxation; pricing policies; bioethics; health policy;
    Academic Unit: Assisting Living & Learning,ALL institute
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Law
    Item ID: 15614
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Oliver Bartlett
    Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2022 14:47
    Journal or Publication Title: Frontiers in Public Health
    Publisher: Frontiers Media
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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