Background: An understanding of how to persuade the public to support a tax on SSBs is paramount in advocating for this public health intervention to policy-makers.
Aim: To determine the most acceptable message-framing for support of a tax on SSBs, aimed at funding obesity prevention interventions
Methods: A nationally representative telephone omnibus survey of 1,203 Australian adults in March 2014. Data were weighted to reflect the population and descriptive and multivariate analyses were undertaken.
Results: Use of money raised from a tax on SSB to fund programs to reduce childhood obesity and for children to play sport received the greatest support (85% and 84%) while replacing fast food and SSB sponsorship of children’s sport and subsidising the cost of healthy food received the least support (both 71%). Improving access to water fountains in public places and facilitating active transport received medium support (79% and 77%). Consistent with the individual ratings, childhood obesity programs ranked highest as the best way to use the money relative to the other options (26%) and did not differ by demographic characteristics. Children’s sport also ranked highly (20%) and consistently across demographic groups. Although receiving the least support individually, a healthy food subsidy ranked highly relative to the other options (21%) but was more acceptable to women (25% cf. 17%), younger adults (18-34: 32% cf. 35-49: 25% and 50+: 9%) and parents (30% cf. 14%). Sponsorship, water fountains (both 10%) and active transport (9%) were ranked lower.
Conclusions: A general message framing use of money raised by a tax on SSBs to fund childhood obesity programs and children’s sport is universally acceptable to the public. Use of the funds to subsidise healthy food is indicated but only for specific population subgroups. Emphasis on access to water fountains, active transport and sponsorship is less well supported.