Strengthening Fiscal Policies and Regulations to Promote Healthy Diets in Sri Lanka

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have been a main health challenge for Sri Lanka for several decades. Personal behaviours such as tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets are among the major risk factors driving NCDs in the country. These behaviours are mainly influenced by the social and food environment characterised by social habits and learned food preferences, unhealthy food marketing, unaffordability of healthy food options and lack of information on food packaging to make informed choices.

The study examines the effectiveness of two recently-introduced fiscal and regulatory interventions for reducing unhealthy food habits [(a) a tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) and (b) a traffic light labeling system indicating sugar levels in SSBs]. This study also explores how COVID-19 has affected the food environment faced by low-income families in selected locations around Colombo. The study also assesses the gaps in policy implementation and effectiveness of the above policy measures. The study provides recommendations for strengthening the design and implementation of these policies for improving the food environment in the country and reducing unhealthy eating habits in Sri Lanka.

Research team

Nisha Arunatilake
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Priyanka Jayawardena
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Sunimalee Madurawala
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Ashani Abayasekara
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International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada

Published Year

2020 – 2022