Sunday, August 23, 2009
LA Times examines whether taxing junk food, traditionally cheaper than healthier alternatives, will reduce obesity and encourage consumers to purchase more nutritious foods.
To make a significant dent in escalating rates of obesity, taxes would have to be steep and widespread. Two-thirds of states now impose a modest soft-drink tax -- the average rate is 5.2% -- and though the taxes are linked to a drop in body weight, the difference is extremely slight: about 3 ounces for a 5-foot-10, 279-pound person.
However, whether taxing junk food would be effective is debatable. Statistics suggest that while taxing cigarettes does curb consumer spending, it may be more difficult to alter consumer purchasing of junk foods.