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Raising Taxes on Sugars, Fats May Be Viable Health Strategy

Raising Taxes on Sugars, Fats May Be Viable Health Strategy

Food pricing strategies linked to pro-health outcomes in analysis of lower socioeconomic groups

THURSDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Taxes on sugar and saturated fats could be associated with beneficial dietary change, according to a study published online Dec. 11 in PLOS Medicine.

Helen Eyles, Ph.D., from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues reviewed simulation studies for countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and examined the association between food pricing strategies and changes in food purchases or intake (consumption) and health outcomes.

The researchers found that, in pooled estimates assessing taxes on carbonated soft drinks, based on four studies, the estimated own-price elasticity (own-PE; change in demand with a 1 percent change in price) was −0.93, and based on three studies there was a modeled −0.02 percent reduction in energy (calorie) intake for each 1 percent price increase. For taxes on saturated fat, based on five studies, for each 1 percent increase in price there was a −0.02 percent reduction in energy intake from saturated fat. Based on three studies assessing subsidies on fruits and vegetables, the own-PE was −0.35. High quality studies indicated that unintended compensatory purchasing could result in overall adverse effects on health and disease outcomes. Food pricing strategies would be associated with pro-health outcomes, based on 11 of 14 studies evaluating lower socioeconomic groups.

"Based on modeling studies, taxes on carbonated drinks and saturated fat and subsidies on fruits and vegetables would be associated with beneficial dietary change, with the potential for improved health," the authors write. "Additional research into possible compensatory purchasing and population health outcomes is needed."

Abstract (http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001353#abstract1 )Full Text (subscription or payment may be required) (http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001353 )