Increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been linked to increases in obesity in both high-income and low- and middle-income countries. Tobacco and alcohol taxes have proven to be effective tools to reduce tobacco and alcohol use. Many public health advocates propose using similar taxes to reduce consumption of SSBs. South Africa is a middle-income country that is considered a leader in the area of tobacco tax policy. A case study of tobacco and alcohol taxes is used to better understand optimal tax structures for SSBs.

This overview of recent research on health behaviour change in developing countries shows progress as well as pitfalls. In order to provide guidance to health and social scientists seeking to change common practices that contribute to illness and death, there needs to be a common approach to developing interventions and evaluating their outcomes. Strategies forming the basis of interventions and programs to change behaviour need to focus on three sources: theories of behaviour change, evidence for the success and failure of past attempts, and an in-depth understanding of one’s audience.

Behaviour change communication is vital for increasing the enactment of particular behaviours known to promote health and growth. The techniques used to change behaviour are important for determining how successful the intervention is. In order to integrate findings from different interventions, we need to define and organize the techniques previously used and connect them to effectiveness data.