A Qualitative Study of Adolescent Views of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes, Michigan, 2014
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A Qualitative Study of Adolescent Views of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes, Michigan, 2014

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    We conducted a qualitative study to gather information on adolescent views of how a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) would affect adolescents’ consumption of SSBs. The role of habit in consumption of SSBs was also explored.


    We held 3 focus groups with students from various racial/ethnic groups (N = 22) in grades 6 through 8 at a Michigan middle school. Data on demographic characteristics and beverage consumption were collected. Focus group discussions, guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior, explored adolescent views of a 20% tax on SSBs and the tax’s effect on adolescents’ consumption of these beverages. Focus groups were recorded and recordings transcribed verbatim. Data were coded and analyzed using NVivo software.


    Students understood the short- and long-term advantages and disadvantages of drinking SSBs. They understood that the opinions of those around them about SSBs might be affected by personal consumption. Students also understood the personal and economic effects of a 20% tax on SSBs, although the economics of a tax confused some. Students indicated that habit and environment could make reducing consumption of SSBs difficult, but they also gave suggestions, using habit and environment, to reduce consumption. Most students reported that they would decrease their consumption of SSBs if a 20% tax were implemented.


    Taxes on SSBs could be used, with other strategies, to reduce adolescents’ high level of SSB consumption.

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