Published: December 2020

Journal: Obesity Reviews

Authors: Houghtaling B, Holston D, Szocs C, Penn J, Qi D, Hedrick V

See more related research


Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are a primary source of added sugars in the American diet. Habitual SSB consumption is associated with obesity and noncommunicable disease and is one factor contributing to U.S. health disparities. Public health responses to address marketing-mix and choice-architecture (MMCA) strategies used to sell SSB products may be required. Thus, our goal was to identify original research about stocking and marketing practices used to sell SSB in U.S. food stores. We used Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) protocol for rapid reviewing. We searched six databases and Google Scholar using key terms focused on store type and SSB products. We characterized results using an MMCA framework with categories place, profile, portion, pricing, promotion, priming or prompting, and proximity. Our search resulted in the identification of 29 articles. Most results focused on profile (e.g., SSB availability) (n = 13), pricing (e.g., SSB prices or discounts) (n = 13), or promotion (e.g., SSB advertisements) (n = 13) strategies. We found some evidence of targeted MMCA practices toward at-risk consumers and differences by store format, such as increased SSB prominence among supermarkets. The potential for systematic variations in MMCA strategies used to sell SSB requires more research. We discuss implications for public health, health equity, and environmental sustainability.

Related Research

July 2022

Reducing Student Exposure to Digital Food and Beverage Marketing

Digital marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children and adolescents is pervasive and undermines healthy eating. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students’ time spent online for both recreation and school using educational technology doubled from 3.8 to 7.7 hours per day for 12- to13-year-olds, and racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities widened with children of color More

July 2022

Sweetened beverage taxes: Economic benefits and costs according to household income

Taxing sweetened beverages has emerged as an important and effective policy for addressing their overconsumption. However, taxes may place a greater economic burden on people with lower incomes. We assess the degree to which sweetened beverage taxes in three large U.S. cities placed an inequitable burden on populations with lower incomes by assessing spending on More

April 2022

Food Marketing Practices of Major Online Grocery Retailers in the United States, 2019-2020

Food marketing influences consumers’ preferences for and selection of marketed products. Although a substantial body of research has described food-marketing practices in brick-and-mortar stores, no research has examined food marketing in online grocery retail despite its growing importance as a source of food-at-home purchases. This study aimed to develop and apply a coding instrument to More