Stakeholder views on taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages and its adoption in the Netherlands

Eykelenboom, Michelle; Djojosoeparto, Sanne K.; Stralen, Maartje M. Van; Olthof, Margreet R.; Renders, Carry M.; Poelman, Maartje P.; Kamphuis, Carlijn B.M.; Steenhuis, Ingrid H.M.


An increasing number of governments worldwide have introduced a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) for public health. However, the adoption of such a policy is still debated in many other countries, such as in the Netherlands. We investigated Dutch stakeholder views on taxation of SSB and perceived barriers and facilitators to its adoption in the Netherlands. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2019 with 27 stakeholders from health and consumer organizations, health professional associations, trade associations, academia, advisory bodies, ministries and parliamentary parties. Data were analysed using a thematic content approach. The findings reveal that, between and within sectors, stakeholders expressed contradictory views on the effectiveness, appropriateness and (socio)economic effects of an SSB tax. Perceived barriers to the adoption of an SSB tax in the Netherlands included an unfavourable political context, limited advocacy for an SSB tax, a strong lobby against an SSB tax, perceived public opposition, administrative load and difficulties in defining SSB. Perceived facilitators to its adoption included an increasing prevalence of overweight, disappointing results from voluntary industry actions, a change of government, state budget deficits, a shift in public opinion, international recommendations and a solid legal basis. In conclusion, this study shows that several challenges remain to be overcome for the adoption of an SSB tax in the Netherlands. Similar research on stakeholder views in other countries may further inform SSB tax policy processes.