BackgroundRegular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) can increase the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dental caries. Interventions that alter the physical or social environment in which individuals make beverage choices have been proposed to reduce the consumption of SSB.
MethodsWe included randomised controlled, non-randomised controlled, and interrupted time series studies on environmental interventions, with or without behavioural co-interventions, implemented in real-world settings, lasting at least 12 weeks, and including at least 40 individuals. Studies on the taxation of SSB were not included, as these are subject of a separate Cochrane review. We used standard Cochrane methods for data extraction, risk of bias assessment, and evidence grading and synthesis. Searches were updated to January 24, 2018.
ResultsWe identified 14,488 unique records and assessed 1,030 full texts for eligibility. We included 58 studies comprising a total of 1,180,096 participants and a median length of follow-up of 10 months. We found moderate-certainty evidence for consistent associations with decreases in SSB consumption or sales for the following interventions: traffic light labelling, price increases on SSB, in-store promotion of healthier beverages in supermarkets, government food benefit programs with incentives for purchasing fruits and vegetables and restrictions on SSB purchases, multi-component community campaigns focused on SSB, and interventions improving the availability of low-calorie beverages in the home environment. For the remaining interventions we found low- to very-low-certainty evidence for associations showing varying degrees of consistency.
ConclusionsWith observed benefits outweighing observed harms, we suggest that environmental interventions to reduce the consumption of SSB be considered as part of a wider set of measures to improve population-level nutrition. Implementation should be accompanied by evaluations using appropriate methods. Future studies should examine population-level effects of interventions suitable for large-scale implementation, and interventions and settings not yet studied thoroughly.