Publications by authors named "Caitlin M Lowery"

6 Publications

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Association of a Sweetened Beverage Tax With Purchases of Beverages and High-Sugar Foods at Independent Stores in Philadelphia.

JAMA Netw Open 2021 Jun 1;4(6):e2113527. Epub 2021 Jun 1.

Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

Importance: The relationship between a sweetened beverage tax and changes in the prices and purchases of beverages and high-sugar food is understudied in the long term and in small independent food retail stores where sugar-sweetened beverages are among the most commonly purchased items.

Objective: To examine whether a 1.5 cent-per-fluid-ounce excise tax on sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was associated with sustained changes in beverage prices and purchases, as well as calories purchased from beverages and high-sugar foods, over 2 years at small independent stores.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This cross-sectional study used a difference-in-differences approach to compare changes in beverage prices and purchases of beverages and high-sugar foods (candy, sweet snacks) at independent stores in Philadelphia and Baltimore, Maryland (a nontaxed control) before and 2 years after tax implementation, which occurred on January 1, 2017. Price comparisons were also made to independent stores in Philadelphia's neighboring counties.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Changes in mean price (measured in cents per fluid ounce) of taxed and nontaxed beverages, mean fluid ounces purchased of taxed and nontaxed beverages, and mean total calories purchased from beverages and high-sugar foods.

Results: Compared with Baltimore independent stores, taxed beverage prices in Philadelphia increased 2.06 cents per fluid ounce (95% CI, 1.75 to 2.38 cents per fluid ounce; P < .001), with 137% of the tax passed through to prices 2 years after tax implementation, while nontaxed beverage prices had no statistically significant change. A total of 116 independent stores and 4738 customer purchases (1950 [41.2%] women; 4351 [91.8%] age 18 years or older; 1006 [21.2%] White customers, 3185 [67.2%] Black customers) at independent stores were assessed for price and purchase comparisons. Purchases of taxed beverages declined by 6.1 fl oz (95% CI, -9.9 to -2.4 fl oz; P < .001), corresponding to a 42% decline in Philadelphia compared with Baltimore; there were no significant changes in purchases of nontaxed beverages. Although there was no significant moderation by neighborhood income or customer education level, exploratory stratified analyses revealed that declines in taxed beverage purchases were larger among customers shopping in low-income neighborhoods (-7.1 fl oz; 95% CI, -13.0 to -1.1 fl oz; P = .001) and individuals with lower education levels (-6.9 fl oz; 95% CI, -12.5 to -1.3 fl oz; P = .001).

Conclusions And Relevance: This cross-sectional study found that a tax on sweetened beverages was associated with increases in price and decreases in purchasing. Beverage excise taxes may be an effective policy to sustainably decrease purchases of sweetened drinks and calories from sugar in independent stores, with large reductions in lower-income areas and among customers with lower levels of education.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.13527DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8207239PMC
June 2021

No Evidence of Food or Alcohol Substitution in Response to a Sweetened Beverage Tax.

Am J Prev Med 2021 02;60(2):e49-e57

Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Introduction: Evidence suggests real-world beverage taxes reduce sweetened beverage purchases, but it is unknown if consumers consequently increase food or alcohol purchases. This study examines whether Philadelphia's 1.5 cents/ounce beverage tax was associated with substitution to 3 kinds of hypothesized substitutes: snacks, nontaxed beverage concentrates, and alcohol.

Methods: Using commercial retail sales data and a difference-in-differences approach, analyses compared logged volume and dollar sales of snacks and beverage concentrates between 2016 (pretax) and 2017 (post-tax) at chain food retail stores in Philadelphia (n=180) and Baltimore (nontaxed control city; n=60), and logged volume and dollar sales of wine and spirits at liquor stores in Philadelphia (n=44) and nearby Pennsylvania counties (alternate control; n=66). Additional food analyses examined change in logged volume sales of hypothesized products compared to control products (other foods). Analyses were conducted in 2020.

Results: Across store types, analyses showed no statistically significant increases in logged volume or dollar sales of snacks or spirits in Philadelphia stores compared to control sites (decreased, ranging from -10% to 0%). Supermarket analyses showed substitution to nontaxed beverage concentrates (27% increase in volume, 36% increase relative to other food) but remained a relatively small percentage of overall beverage dollar sales (12% at baseline, 15% at post).

Conclusions: At the population level, there is no evidence that Philadelphia's decline in taxed beverage purchases is offset by increases in snacks or spirits purchasing, but there is evidence of substitution to beverage concentrates in supermarkets. Future studies should explore individual-level purchasing changes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2020.08.021DOI Listing
February 2021

Reformulation of Packaged Foods and Beverages in the Colombian Food Supply.

Nutrients 2020 Oct 24;12(11). Epub 2020 Oct 24.

Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400, USA.

Public discussion, advocacy, and legislative consideration of policies aimed at reducing consumption of processed foods, such as sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes and mandatory front-of-package (FOP) warning labels, may stimulate product reformulation as a strategy to prevent regulation. In Colombia, there have been major legislative pushes for SSB taxes and FOP labels, although neither has passed to date. In light of the ongoing policy debate and successful implementation of similar policies in Peru and Chile, we explored manufacturer reformulation in the Colombian food supply. We compared the quantities of nutrients of concern (including sugar, sodium, and saturated fat) from the nutrition facts panels of the same 102 packaged foods and 36 beverages from the top-selling brands in Colombia between 2016 and 2018. Our analyses showed a substantial decrease in median sugar content of beverages, from 9.2 g per 100 mL to 5.2 g per 100 mL, and an increase in the percentage of beverages containing non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS), from 33% to 64% ( = 0.003). No meaningful changes in the quantities of nutrients of concern among foods were observed. Our findings suggest little reformulation has occurred in Colombia in the absence of mandatory policies, except for the substitution of sugar with NNS among beverages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12113260DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7692620PMC
October 2020

The Association Of A Sweetened Beverage Tax With Changes In Beverage Prices And Purchases At Independent Stores.

Health Aff (Millwood) 2020 07;39(7):1130-1139

Christina A. Roberto is an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

In January 2017 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, implemented an excise tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on beverages sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Small independent stores are an important yet understudied setting. They are visited frequently in urban and low-income areas, and sugary beverages are among the most commonly purchased items in them. We compared changes in beverage prices and purchases before and twelve months after tax implementation at small independent stores in Philadelphia and an untaxed control city, Baltimore, Maryland. Our sample included 134 stores with price data and 4,584 customer purchases. Compared with Baltimore, Philadelphia experienced significantly greater increases in the price of taxed beverages (1.81 cents per ounce, or 120.4 percent of the tax) and significantly larger declines in the volume of taxed beverages sold (5.76 ounces, or 38.9 percent) after tax implementation. Beverage excise taxes may be an effective policy tool for decreasing the purchase of sweetened drinks in small independent stores, particularly among populations at higher risk for sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2019.01058DOI Listing
July 2020

One-year changes in sugar-sweetened beverage consumers' purchases following implementation of a beverage tax: a longitudinal quasi-experiment.

Am J Clin Nutr 2020 09;112(3):644-651

Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Background: Few longitudinal studies examine the response to beverage taxes, especially among regular sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumers.

Objective: This study aimed to examine changes in objectively measured beverage purchases associated with the Philadelphia beverage tax on sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages.

Methods: A longitudinal quasi-experiment was conducted with adult sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumers in Philadelphia (n = 306) and Baltimore (n = 297; a nontaxed comparison city). From 2016 to 2017 participants submitted all food and beverage receipts during a 2-wk period at: baseline (pretax) and 3, 6, and 12 mo posttax (91.0% retention; data analyzed in 2019). Linear mixed effects models were used to assess the difference-in-differences in total purchased ounces (fl oz) of taxed beverages in a 2-wk period in Philadelphia compared with Baltimore. Secondary analyses: 1) excluded weeks that contained major holidays at baseline and 12 mo (42% of measured weeks at baseline and 12 mo) because policy implementation timing necessitated data collection during holidays when SSB demand may be more inelastic, and 2) aggregated posttax time points to address serial correlation and low power.

Results: There were no statistically significant changes in purchased ounces of taxed beverages in Philadelphia compared with Baltimore in the primary analysis. After excluding holiday purchasing, the tax was associated with statistically significant reductions of taxed beverage purchases at 3 and 6 mo (-157.1 ounces, 95% CI: -310.1, -4.1 and -175.1 ounces, 95% CI: -328.0, -22.3, respectively) but not 12 mo. Analyses aggregating all 6 wk of posttax time points showed statistically significant reductions (-203.7 ounces, 95% CI: -399.6, -7.8).

Conclusions: A sweetened beverage tax was not associated with reduced taxed beverage purchases among SSB consumers 12 mo posttax in the full sample. Both secondary analyses excluding holiday purchasing or aggregating posttax time periods found reductions in taxed beverage purchases ranging from -4.9 to -12.5 ounces per day. Larger longitudinal studies are needed to further understand tax effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa158DOI Listing
September 2020

Strategies to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and increase water access and intake among young children: perspectives from expert stakeholders.

Public Health Nutr 2018 12 11;21(18):3440-3449. Epub 2018 Oct 11.

2Department of Health Policy and Management,Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,Boston,MA,USA.

Objectives: To summarize stakeholder recommendations and ratings of strategies to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and increase water access and intake among young children (0-5 years).

Design: Two online surveys: survey 1 asked respondents to recommend novel and innovative strategies to promote healthy beverage behaviour; survey 2 asked respondents to rank each of these strategies on five domains (overall importance, feasibility, effectiveness, reach, health equity). Open-ended questions were coded and analysed for thematic content.

Setting: Using a snowball sampling approach, respondents were invited to complete the survey through an email invitation or an anonymous listserv link. Of the individuals who received a private email invitation, 24 % completed survey 1 and 29 % completed survey 2.

Subjects: Survey 1 (n 276) and survey 2 (n 182) included expert stakeholders who work on issues related to SSB and water consumption.

Results: Six overarching strategies emerged to change beverage consumption behaviours (survey 1): education; campaigns and contests; marketing and advertising; price changes; physical access; and improving the capacity of settings to promote healthy beverages. Labelling and sugar reduction (e.g. reformulation) were recommended as strategies to reduce SSB consumption, while water testing and remediation emerged as a strategy to promote water intake. Stakeholders most frequently recommended (survey 1) and provided higher ratings (survey 2) to strategies that used policy, systems and/or environmental changes.

Conclusions: The present study is the first to assess stakeholder opinions on strategies to promote healthy beverage consumption. This knowledge is key for understanding where stakeholders believe resources can be best utilized.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980018002604DOI Listing
December 2018
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