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NSG 4068 Week 1 Project – Using a Health Policy Model to Develop a Change in Policy to Improve the Public Health

NSG 4068 Week 1 Project – Using a Health Policy Model to Develop a Change in Policy to Improve the Public Health

NSG 4068 Week 1 Project – Using a Health Policy Model to Develop a Change in Policy to Improve Public Health

Sugared beverages are a staple in the United States. They are lined on grocery and convenience store shelves as well as in virtually every dining establishment. These drinks are the number one added sugar source in the diets of Americans (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2017). On the surface, sugared beverages may seem harmless and satisfying to American consumers; however, the consumption of these beverages comes with a hefty price at the expense of public health and well-being. Due to the prevalence of health disparities associated with these products, a policy will be proposed that places a tax on all sugared beverages. First, arguments for and against this policy proposal will be identified and discussed. Next, strategies to obtain buy-in will be examined. Then, Longest’s policy cycle model will be utilized to structure this policy proposal. Finally, key stakeholders in the process will be discussed.

Arguments in Favor of Proposed Policy

There are several imperative reasons why a tax should be placed on all sugared beverages. Regular consumption of sugared beverages has been linked to obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, non-alcoholic cirrhosis, tooth decay and gout (CDC, 2017). In addition, diabetes and obesity are increasing at alarming rates in both adults and children. This is largely due to a higher intake of sugared beverages (Maa, 2016). A reduction in the consumption of these beverages can lessen the risk of diseases, promote optimal weight levels and enhance healthy dietary practices (CDC, 2017). The funds produced from the tax can be placed back into health and wellness programs such as improved access to healthy foods among low-income individuals, chronic illness prevention and public health education. Also, it can decrease the prevalence of preventable chronic illnesses and their associated healthcare costs. Increased prices can hinder the purchase of sugared beverages; therefore, consumers may gravitate toward healthier options. Furthermore, beverage companies will have an increased motivation to produce beverages that are safer for public health (Healthy Food America, n.d.). All of these arguments support the centralized goal to reduce health disparities caused by sugared beverage consumption.

Arguments Against Proposed Policy

It is reasonable to assume that the beverage industry would be the highest opponent at the forefront of this policy proposal. They argue that taxing sugared beverages unfairly affects low-income individuals as sugared beverages are a less expensive drink option. Additionally, they assert that the funds created from a tax have the negative potential to be utilized for populations other than those with low incomes. The beverage industry largely claims a tax would create a decrease in productivity which would result in job loss (Wang, 2018). Another group of opponents to a sugared beverage tax are the many interest groups who support the beverage industry. They claim that a tax would further burden low-income individuals because they spend a larger proportion of their household budget on food than higher-income individuals. These interest groups also assert that high-calorie diets are the primary cause of obesity rather than sugared drinks. A central argument by interest groups is that individuals should have the right to choose what foods or drinks they consume and that a tax interferes with freedom of choice (Studdert et al., 2015).

NSG 4068 Week 1 Project – Using a Health Policy Model to Develop a Change in Policy to Improve Public Health

Methods to Achieve Buy-In

In order to obtain buy-in from the public, various methods may be utilized. It is of utmost importance to provide issue clarity. One way this can be accomplished is through issue papers. This method paints a clear picture of the arguments for and against an issue, including evidential support for the policy proposal, and creates strategies that aid in keeping the issue moving forward in the policy process (Mason et al., 2016). The issue will include the detrimental health effects of sugared drinks, the public health arguments for the policy, the economic arguments against the policy, evidence-based information on the health benefits of the proposed tax, historical research on policy success in other communities and strategies to prevent negative outcomes and barriers in the policy’s promotion. This will allow the public to have a strong hold on why the issue is important and how the proposed policy offers a successful solution; thus, buy-in can be achieved. It is also important to gain the public’s support by raising awareness and educating them about the health benefits of a sugared beverage tax. This can be undertaken through outlets such as educational conferences, public question and answer sessions and media involvement via newspaper articles, news media and social media.

Longest’s Policy Cycle Model

The Longest’s policy cycle model can be used to structure a policy proposal in order to ensure it addresses all areas of the process. This model encompasses three phases which include policy formulation, policy implementation and policy modification. In the policy formulation phase, the nurse brings the issue to the attention of legislators and assists in shaping a policy that is patient-focused (Mason et al., 2016). During this phase, the nurse will educate legislators on the widespread and detrimental public health effects of sugared beverages. This is essential as it will influence how the policy will be drafted with patient-focused outcomes at its centre (Mason et al., 2016). In the policy implementation phase, the policy is passed from the legislative branch to the executive branch and then implemented. At this point, the defining characteristics and rules of the policy are written. Stakeholders are very influential during this phase, and the specific rules may need to be adjusted accordingly if enough scientific evidence exists. Expert nurses examine how these rules are specified as well as work to maintain support through campaigns. (Mason et al., 2016). The nurse will review and monitor the specific rules in the sugared beverage policy such as the tax amount and which beverages will be included. The nurse must be prepared to counteract opposition to the policy from the beverage industry and their interest groups with evidence-based information. Public opposition should continue to be met with health education and campaigns to sustain awareness of the policy’s purpose for health promotion. The policy modification phase is the last step in the process. In this phase, the policy is revised and modified if undesirable outcomes occur or the circumstances have changed at a later time (Mason et al., 2016). Once the sugared beverage tax policy has been established, evidence-based data may warrant a change in the tax amount or the list of included beverages.


The stakeholders are all the individuals who will be directly affected by the policy implementation and those involved in the policy decision-making process (Mason et al., 2016). In the proposed sugared beverage tax policy, the stakeholders are the community, health insurance companies, medical professionals, medical facilities, policy decision-makers, public health organizations, the beverage industry and interest groups. A policy that is viewed as beneficial by political figures and stakeholders has a much higher chance of being passed and implemented (Mason et al., 2016).

NSG 4068 Week 1 Project – Using a Health Policy Model to Develop a Change in Policy to Improve Public Health


In summary, the health policy is dynamic, and nurses play an important role throughout the entire process. It is necessary to identify supportive and opposing arguments, develop ways to gain public and other stakeholder support and follow a structured process to ensure its successful execution. Public health can greatly benefit from this sugared beverage tax policy proposal. A reduction in sugared beverage consumption can prevent a multitude of harmful diseases and improve the overall health and well-being of the American population.


Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Get the facts: Sugar-sweetened beverages and consumption. Retrieved from sweetened-beverages-intake.html

Healthy Food America. (n.d.). Taxing sugary drinks. Retrieved from

Maa, J. (2016). Taxing soda: Strategies for dealing with the obesity and diabetes epidemic. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 59(4), 448-464. doi:

Mason, D., Gardner, D., Outlaw, F. H., & O’Grady, E. (2016). Policy & politics in nursing and health care (7th ed.). [VitalSource Digital Version]. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Inc.

Studdert, D. M., Flanders, J., & Mello, M. M. (2015). Searching for public health law’s sweet spot: The regulation of sugar-sweetened beverages. PLoS Medicine, 12(7) doi:

Wang, Y. C. (2018). Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages reach a turning point. Clinical Chemistry, 64(1), 42-43. doi:


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Suppose you want to initiate a policy of taxing sugared sodas/pop/beverages in your community.

Use the Longest’s policy cycle model to ponder the following questions:

What arguments would you use to make the case for the policy? What argument(s) would your opponents make? How would you go about getting buy-in for your proposed policy?

What stakeholder groups need to be involved in promoting your policy?

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