News story 1st Nov 2016

CHE PhD student wins best paper prize at AHED

Miranda Blake, PhD candidate in the Centre for Health Economics, was awarded the prize for excellence in oral presentation and best paper at the 4th Australian Health Economics Society Doctoral Workshop (AHED) workshop on 28 September.

Miranda Blake (right) Claryn Kung (left)

Miranda Blake (left) shown here with fellow CHE PhD candidate Claryn Kung (right).

The AHED workshop is held as part of the Australian Health Economics Society (AHES) annual conference and has proved a popular event in recent years.

The aim of the workshop is to gather health economics PhD students across Australia for an exchange of knowledge with some of the most senior leaders in the field of health economics.

Students have the opportunity to engage in a high level discussion with experts in the field, as well as network with fellow PhD students. Six research papers are competitively selected for inclusion into the program.

Miranda’s AHED presentation derives from her PhD research project entitled 'Building the evidence base for effective and equitable food and beverage pricing strategies', supervised by Associate Professor Emily Lancsar. Miranda is an accredited dietitian interested in health equity and public health nutrition.

Miranda’s presentation was a 20 minute talk on 'Estimating the impact of sugar-sweetened beverage price increases and educational messages on beverage purchasing behaviour by socioeconomic position: a discrete choice experiment' (authors: Miranda Blake, Emily Lancsar and Anna Peeters and Kathryn Backholer of the Global Obesity Centre, Deakin University). This was followed by a commentary led by Dr Peter Sivey (RMIT University) after which a general audience discussion was held.

The research

The discrete choice experiment (DCE) was conducted with Australian adults in a convenience store setting to predict the impact of altered beverage prices on consumer purchasing behaviours and their differential effect by socioeconomic position.

Preliminary results suggest that population-wide health-motivated price alterations were associated with positive changes to purchasing behaviour across all income groups. Additionally, sugary drink price increases may not widen socioeconomic inequalities in sugary drink consumption.

This is the first DCE to examine the effect of beverage price changes on purchases among adults. More work should be done to explore optimal pricing strategies balancing consumer behaviour and equity outcomes and in non-supermarket settings.