Friday, March 20, 2009
An article in Science Daily discusses a recent study appearing in the Milbank Quarterly that concluded that prices of food can impact obesity and lends support to those public policy folks who wish to tax or raise the price of various unhealthy foods.
Raising the prices of less healthy foods (e.g., fast foods and sugary products) and lowering the prices of healthier foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables) are associated with lower body weight and lesser likelihood of obesity. Children and adolescents, the poor, and those already at a higher weight are most responsive to these changes in prices.
Small taxes on unhealthy food items or small subsidies for healthy foods are not likely to produce substantial changes in BMI or obesity prevalence while nontrivial pricing interventions may have a measurable effect on Americans’ weight outcomes.
“This review provides evidence about the potential effectiveness of using food pricing policies to affect weight outcomes, including the potential impact of excise and other taxes on less healthy products and of subsidies for more healthy products,” the authors conclude. . . .